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Interesting facts about Olympics for your kids

By Sanjoli Solanki,

Find out more about the Olympics, the largest sporting event in the world that originated in 796 BC.

The Olympic Games that were primarily a part of a religious festival are now the biggest tourist attraction and sporting event of the world.

The Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics is scheduled between July 23 and August 8 this year, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic that took the world by storm in 2020. This is the largest sporting event of the world held at a gap of four years alternating between Summer and Winter Olympics. The official mascot for the event this year is named Miraitowa. The name originates from the Japanese words "Mirai", and "Towa". While “Mirai” means “future”, "Towa", means “eternity”. 

The virus-postponed Games is being held this July with a lot of restrictions and COVID-19 protocols. For example, fewer athletes will be participating in the Games, they will be wearing their own medals and will not be allowed to kiss the medals, they will need to wear masks on the podium, the number of spectators will be scaled down, so on and so forth.  

The history of the Olympic Games dates back to 776 BC. Staged in Olympia for the first time, this sporting event, which continued till 392 AD, used to be held at an interval of four years back then too. It was in conjunction with a festival to commemorate the Greek god Zeus. The modern version of the Olympics took place in Athens in 1896 when organizer Pierre de Coubertin formed the International Olympic Committee. Here are some facts that kids will find interesting.  

The longest remaining record in the Olympics is 50 years old  
In the 1968 Olympic Games of Mexico, Bob Bearman was the winner in the long jump category. His incredible leap of 8.90 meters set an Olympic record that stands unbeaten to this day. This is what Greg Rutherford, a British track and field athlete said about this iconic record, “It was a special jump back then and a special jump right now.” 

London 2012: A landmark for gender equality  
The London Games 2012 marked the beginning of a new era in the Olympics moving away from excluded athletics towards showcasing true equality. It was called the Women’s Games because women competitors were not barred from even a single sport and for the first time in history, every nation sent a female competitor.  

Biting Olympic medals is a tradition 
You must have observed that Olympians bite their medals during the awards ceremony. Why do they do that? Actually, this is an age-old tradition that started with merchants checking the purity of a coin. A pure gold coin is not supposed to have teeth marks on its surface. Now, Olympic medals are mostly made of silver with only a gold finish. The 1904 Olympic Games saw medals made of gold for the last time.  
 
The Olympic rings bear a symbol 
The famous symbol of five rings stands for five continents and the colours represent the colours of the flags of competing nations.  

Legacy marked in stone 
Medalists are not only inducted in their countries and Olympic histories. However, they are honoured at the tournament's Olympic stadium. The names of winners are engraved on the stadium's walls, allowing their legacy to be immortalized in stone. 

1960: The year of the first Paralympics  
Rome witnessed the first Paralympic Games in 1960. The aim was to provide a platform for war veterans to compete and rehabilitate. Prior to this also, physically challenged athletes competed in the Olympics. In 1904, gymnast George Eyser won six medals with a wooden leg. Now, the Paralympics are meant to provide an opportunity for people with physical challenges to compete. In 2014 Ibrahim Hamato, a table tennis player with no hands, created history after becoming the world champion. He had played with the racquet in his mouth. 

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