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Interesting Olympic Facts

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The Exact Length of a Marathon
During the first several modern Olympics, the marathon was always an approximate distance. In 1908, the British royal family requested that the marathon start at the Windsor Castle so that the royal children could witness its start. The distance from the Windsor Castle to the Olympic Stadium was 42,195 meters (or 26 miles and 385 yards). In 1924, this distance became the standardized length of a marathon.

Women
Women were first allowed to participate in 1900 at the second modern Olympic Games.

Winter Games Begun
The winter Olympic Games were first held in 1924, beginning a tradition of holding them a few months earlier and in a different city than the summer Olympic Games. Beginning in 1994, the winter Olympic Games were held in completely different years (two years apart) than the summer Games.

Cancelled Games
Because of World War I and World War II, there were no Olympic Games in 1916, 1940, or 1944.

Tennis Banned
Tennis was played at the Olympics until 1924, then reinstituted in 1988.

Walt Disney
In 1960, the Winter Olympic Games were held in Squaw Valley, California (United States). In order to bedazzle and impress the spectators, Walt Disney was head of the committee that organized the opening day ceremonies. The 1960 Winter Games Opening Ceremony was filled with high school choirs and bands, releasing of thousands of balloons, fireworks, ice statues, releasing of 2,000 white doves, and national flags dropped by parachute.

Russia Not Present
Though Russia had sent a few athletes to compete in the 1908 and 1912 Olympic Games, they did not compete again until the 1952 Games.

Motor Boating
Motor boating was an official sport at the 1908 Olympics.

Polo, an Olympic Sport
Polo was played at the Olympics in 1900, 1908, 1920, 1924, and 1936.

Gymnasium
The word "gymnasium" comes from the Greek root "gymnos" meaning nude; the literal meaning of "gymnasium" is "school for naked exercise." Athletes in the ancient Olympic Games would participate in the nude.

Stadium
The first recorded ancient Olympic Games were held in 776 BCE with only one event - the stade. The stade was a unit of measurement (about 600 feet) that also became the name of the footrace because it was the distance run. Since the track for the stade (race) was a stade (length), the location of the race became the stadium.

Counting Olympiads
An Olympiad is a period of four successive years. The Olympic Games celebrate each Olympiad. For the modern Olympic Games, the first Olympiad celebration was in 1896. Every four years celebrates another Olympiad; thus, even the Games that were cancelled (1916, 1940, and 1944) count as Olympiads. The 2004 Olympic Games in Athens was called the Games of the XXVIII Olympiad.

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