Every two years, we embrace the magic of the Olympic Games. We watch from the sidelines as athletes display superhero levels of physical and mental strength and determination. We learn their names and their stories—but how much do we know about this incredible event itself? Feeling curious? Here are some fascinating and inspiring Olympics facts for kids (and grownups!).
31 Fun Olympics Facts for Kids
The first Olympic Games took place in 776 B.C.
As part of an Ancient Greek festival held to honor and celebrate Zeus, the Olympic Games included boxing, chariot racing, discus, long jump, javelin, and wrestling and could last up to six months! Watch this video to learn more.
Athletes in the ancient Olympic Games competed in the nude.
The word gymnasium is derived from the Greek root “gymnos” which means nude.
The Ancient Olympic Games ended in 393 A.D.
Due to the religious elements incorporated into the celebrations, Emperor Theodosius I, a Roman ruler, considered the Olympics a pagan festival and banned them. Watch this video to learn more about why the Romans canceled the Games.
The first modern Olympics took place in Athens, Greece.
Baron Pierre de Coubertin revived the games in 1896, calling this new event the “modern Olympics”—and it’s still going strong today. Learn more about how this happened!
The modern Olympics have been hosted by 23 countries.
Olympic host nations include Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, South Korea, United Kingdom, United States, and Yugoslavia.
Artists used to participate in the Olympics.
From 1921 to 1948, artists such as architects, painters, musicians, sculptors, and writers would compete for medals. Learn more about the time art was an official Olympic sport.
The Olympics used to be in summer only.
The first winter games didn’t take place until 1924.
The Winter Games have never taken place in the Southern Hemisphere.
The weather is too warm there. Winter sports need ice and snow!
The only country to host the Summer Olympics four times is the United States.
The Summer Games took place in St. Louis (1904), Los Angeles (1932 and 1984), and Atlanta (1996). The city of Los Angeles will host the Games for the third time in 2028.
London is the only city to host the Summer Olympics three times.
The Summer Olympics took place in London in 1908, 1948, and 2012.
The modern Olympics have been canceled three times.
The Games were called off due to World War I (Berlin 1916) and World War II (Tokyo 1940 and London 1944).
The rings on the Olympic flag are related to the five continents.
The five intertwined rings represent the solidarity and unity of the five continents—Africa, America (North and South America), Asia, Europe, and Oceania. Learn more about what the Olympic rings really mean.
The Olympic ring colors represent every national flag.
When Baron Pierre de Coubertin founded the modern Olympics, he specifically chose the colors (blue, green, yellow, black, and red) so that at least one of those colors could be found on all of the flags of nations around the world.
Every Olympics has a specific motto.
The motto for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics is “Together for a Shared Future.”
In the ancient Olympics, winners received an olive wreath.
There were no medals in ancient Greece.
Gold, silver, and bronze medals were introduced in 1904.
The tradition of awarding gold to first place, silver to second, and bronze to third began in St. Louis, the first Olympics held in the United States.
Gold medals were fully solid gold only until the 1912 Olympics.
The gold medal is no longer pure gold. It’s made mostly of silver!
The host city designs Olympic medals.
The host city’s Olympic organizing committee is responsible for designing the medals. Watch this video to learn how Japan used recycled consumer electronics to make the Tokyo 2020 medals.
The United States has won more medals than any other country.
American athletes have won a total of 2,629 medals (1,060 gold) at the Summer Olympic Games and another 305 (105 gold) at the Winter Olympic Games.
Swimmer Michael Phelps is the most decorated Olympian.
The American swimmer won 28 total medals across 4 Olympics, including 23 gold medals. The Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina is second with 18 medals. Watch this video of athletes with the most Olympic medals ever!
Only two athletes have won gold medals at both the Summer and Winter Olympics.
Sweden’s Gillis Grafstrom won the gold in figure skating at the 1920 Summer Olympics and again in 1924 and 1928 when it moved to the Winter Games. American athlete, Eddie Eagan, won gold in boxing in 1920 and again in the team bobsled event at the 1932 Winter Games.
Two athletes have won gold for two different countries.
Rugby player, Daniel Carrol, won for Australia in 1908 and the United States in 1920. Men’s weightlifting champion, Kakhi Kakhiashvili, won as part of the Unified Team at the 1992 Barcelona Games and for Greece in both 1996 and 2000.
The youngest Olympian in the modern era was just 10 years old.
Greek gymnast, Dimitrios Loundras, competed in the 1896 Athens Olympics. Learn more about his historic performance.
Women could not compete in the Olympics until 1900.
The Olympic Games were a men’s-only event for a very long time. Women couldn’t compete in volleyball and luge until 1964, weightlifting until 2000, or boxing until 2012. Learn more about the history of women and the Olympic Games.
The Olympic flame travels from Greece to the host nation every two years.
Before each Olympics, the flame is lit at Olympia in Greece. It spends two years traveling to and around the host nation until it’s used to light the Olympic Cauldron at the Opening Ceremony. Learn more about the history of the Olympic flame.
The Opening Ceremony procession has a specific order.
The Parade of Nations is always led by the Greeks and ends with athletes from the host nation. All other countries enter in alphabetical order according to their native language. Watch this video to learn more.
The 1960 Rome Games were the first televised Olympics in the United States.
CBS was the first to broadcast the Olympics, bringing them into the homes of Americans.
Only five countries have competed in every Summer Olympics.
Greece, Australia, France, Great Britain, and Switzerland have sent athletes to every single Summer Games.
Live Pigeon Shooting was a one-time event.
Live Pigeon Shooting was an archery event at at the 1900 Olympic Games.
Figure skating was originally part of the Summer Olympics.
The figure skating event first appeared at the 1908 Summer Olympics but moved to the Winter Olympic Games in 1924.
Golf made a comeback at the 2016 Olympic Games.
After being out for 112 years, golf returned with four new sports — karate, skateboarding, sport climbing, and surfing.