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Holidays & Heritage July 2024: Summer Olympics


Medals and Memories: Reflecting on the 2024 Summer Olympics


Introduction to the Olympics


The Summer Olympics will take place this year in Paris, France, from July 26 - August 11, 2024. These games, also known as the Games of the Olympiad, are held every four years on Leap Year. Since both the Summer and Winter Olympic Games occur every four years, it was decided in 1924 that they would alternate every two years instead of happening at the same time. The only exception to this ruling was the postponement of the 2020 Summer Olympic Games, which were held in 2021 because of the Covid-19 pandemic. It was the first and only Olympics to have been held on an odd year.


The first recorded Olympic Games were held in Greece in 776 B.C., and the few records still in existence seem to suggest that the only event until 724 B.C. was a 210-yard foot race for runners [8]. All free males, from poor farmers to royals, were permitted to compete, although the majority of competitors were soldiers [11]. The games were held in Olympia, which was believed to be the home of the Greek gods, and they were held as a ceremony to honor Zeus, the king of the gods. These ancient games were held until 393 A.D. when the Roman emperor banned them because of their pagan religious origin in order to promote a more Christian agenda [3]. The first modern Olympic games were held in 1896 in Athens, Greece, and took place about 1500 years after the last ancient games were held in 393.


The first modern Olympic Games were originally supposed to have been held in 1900, but world leaders were so excited about the proposal that they instead voted for it to be moved up to 1896. They agreed that as a way of paying homage to the ancient origin of the games, the first modern Olympic games ought to be held in Greece. Only 12 countries participated that year, and only 42 events were held—a startlingly small number compared to the more than 40 countries in attendance and more than 100 events held just under 30 years later at the 1924 Olympic Games in Paris. Since their 19th-century reintroduction, the Olympics have grown rapidly in popularity, and this year’s games will see 206 countries participate and more than 300 events hosted.

 

One of the most well-known traditions incorporated into the Olympics is the procession of the Olympic torch, which is carried mostly by foot from Olympia, Greece, to the site of the opening ceremony for that year’s Olympic Games [7]. This procession shows the close ties between ancient and modern customs and acknowledges the heritage of this monumental event. The final leg of the procession is televised as the Olympic torch is lit and stands as a beacon of hope for global peace in recognition of the start of the games. Every Olympic Games boasts a unique torch, which is specially designed to represent the Olympics and the host country. The first torch relay was introduced in 1936, and more than 5,000 people took part in the torch relay from Greece to Germany.


The 1900 Paris Olympic Games were the first time women were permitted to compete. This year’s games, which are also being held in Paris, will mark the first time that gender equality has been achieved in registration, as 50% of those competing are predicted to be female [3]. This year’s opening ceremony will see a parade of athletes make their way by boats that are designated by country down the Seine and past the Eiffel Tower. It will be the first opening ceremony that will be open to the general public or held outside of a traditional stadium. The 2024 Summer Olympics has 35 different venues in and around Paris. There will be more than 10,000 athletes competing in 32 different sports throughout the two weeks of the Olympic Games.


Paris 2024 Olympics will even include sports like surfing and breakdancing, while it was decided that karate, softball, and baseball would not be included. As surfing requires certain geographical features that cannot be readily found in Paris, the surfing competition will be held in Tahiti instead. Teahupo’o has been hosting the Pro Tahiti world championships for twenty years and will be the farthest venue from the host city to ever host an Olympic event [3]. Officials in charge of orchestrating the events and locations have said that their goal is to showcase all that France has to offer, including her overseas influence in Tahiti.


USA Athletes to Watch


Simone Biles:

Simone Biles is one of the best gymnasts in history, with a total of seven Olympic medals under her belt. She withdrew from the 2021 Olympics but has returned with a passion, and she is predicted to do incredibly well at this year’s games.


Coco Gauff:

Coco Gauff won her first grand slam tournament in 2023 at the U.S. Open. She was forced to withdraw from the 2021 games due to a positive Covid-19 test, but that certainly has not stopped her as she has continued to succeed in the tennis world at only 20 years of age.


Katie Ledecky:

Katie Ledecky is an amazing swimmer. She has already won seven gold medals and won her first gold medal when she was only 15 years old.


Caeleb Dressel:

Caeleb Dressel has also won seven gold medals in swimming. He is an extremely versatile competitor and has won several events, such as relays, freestyle, and butterfly.


Lebron James:

Team USA has won seven of the last eight gold medals in basketball; Lebron James has personally won 2 of those. He will be joined by teammates Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant.


5 Fun Facts About This Year's Games  


  1. This year’s Summer Olympics’ International Olympic Committee (IOC) has sponsored a refugee team. The 2016 Olympic Games were the first to have the IOC Refugee Team. This year’s IOC Refugee Team consists of 36 athletes from 11 different countries [2]. They represent the more than 100 million displaced people around the globe. Each of the team members will be sponsored by another member country of the IOC.

  2. Most mascots of the Olympic Games have been animals of some sort that are significant to the host city or country. However, as Paris is the fashion capital of the world, they have chosen to have a “phryge” (pronounced freege), a type of hat, as their mascot instead [5]. The white, conical hat that the Smurfs wear is a great example of a Phrygian cap.

  3. This year will mark the first time that the Olympics and Paralympic Games will have the same logo [7].

  4. The more than 5,000 medals that will be provided at the games contain iron from the original Eiffel Tower. The reverse side of the medals depicts Nike, the Greek goddess of victory, the Athenian Acropolis to denote the heritage of the Games, and the Eiffel Tower. This will be the first time that the Eiffel Tower is included in the historical theme on the back of each medal [1,4].

  5. Experts predict that about 13 million meals or snacks will be provided during the Games and a shocking total of 3 million bananas [8].


3 Crafts/Activities


5 Rings Craft:


The five rings of the Olympics represent the five inhabited continents on Earth. It is a way of showing the unity of countries around the world in the spirit of friendly competition every four years. Join us in recreating the five rings at home!


Materials: 

  • Five paper plates

  • Red, blue, green, yellow, and black paint

  • Scissors

  • Tape


Instructions:

  1. Paint red, blue, green, yellow, and black onto the outer ring of paper plates, one color per plate.

  2. Cut out the center of each plate.

  3. Turn them all over and lay them out in the shape of the Olympic Rings logo below.

  4. Tape the rings back together to keep them in place.

  5. Hang up your creation, tune in to the Olympics, and revel in the spirit of global sportsmanship!


Olympic Countdown:


Help us count down to the Olympic opening ceremony!


Materials:

  • Red, blue, green, yellow, and black construction paper

  • Stapler or tape

  • Scissors


Instructions:

  1. Cut 2-inch wide strips of construction paper from your red, blue, green, yellow, and black paper.

  2. Staple or tape them together in connecting rings.

  3. Pull one off every day until the Olympics opening ceremony.


Olympic Laurel:


The laurel wreath is an iconic and ancient custom that was reintroduced to the modern Olympic games. Winners of an event are presented with them to symbolize success, victory, and fame. The laurel wreath is even featured on many Olympic medals!


Materials:

  • Dark and light green construction paper

  • Scissors

  • Paper plate

  • Glue


Instructions:

  1. Separate dark and light green construction paper.

  2. Cut leaf shapes out of both colors of the construction paper.

  3. Cut out the center of the plate.

  4. Glue leaves onto the outer rim of that plate, alternating colors.

  5. Continue arranging until satisfied.


Sources


[1]“Berlin 1936 Olympic Torch Relay - Highlights.” Olympics, olympics.com/en/olympic-games/berlin-1936/torch-relay. Accessed 22 May 2024.

[2] “Bonjour, Olympics! 5 Fun Facts about the Upcoming Paris Games.” CBC News Kids, CBC/Radio Canada, www.cbc.ca/kidsnews/post/bonjour-olympics-5-facts-about-the-upcoming-2024-paris-games. Accessed 13 May 2024.

[3] “Check the 24 Things You Do Not Know about Paris 2024.” Olympics, 26 July 2022, olympics.com/en/news/24-things-we-already-know-about-the-olympic-games-paris-2024.

[4] Maragos, Alex. “100 Days out from Olympics, Here Are the Top American Athletes to Watch in Paris.” NBC, Chicago, NBC Chicago, 17 Apr. 2024.

[6] “Paris 2024 - the Medals of the Paris 2024 Games.” Olympics, olympics.com/en/paris-2024/the-games/the-brand/medals-design. Accessed 13 May 2024.

[7] Paris Wilson, Jessica Chapel. “Paris 2024 Summer Olympics: Everything You Need to Know.” Condé Nast Traveler, 22 Apr. 2024, www.cntraveler.com/story/paris-2024-summer-olympics.

[8] Pareja, Marcos Menocal, and Contact Marcos  Read more of Marcos’ articles. “Paris 2024 Facts and Figures Six Months Out.” Olympic, Paralympic and Commonwealth Games News, 22 Jan. 2024, www.insidethegames.biz/articles/1143455/numbers-paris-2024-nine-budget-spectator.

[9] “Paris 2024 Olympic Games: Top Five Things to Know.” Olympics, 8 Aug. 2021, olympics.com/en/news/paris-2024-olympic-games-top-five-things-to-know-tokyo-2020.

[10] “The Games: The Real Story of the Ancient Olympic Games - Penn Museum.” The Games | The Real Story of the Ancient Olympic Games - Penn Museum, www.penn.museum/sites/olympics/olympicorigins.shtml.

[11] “Welcome to the Ancient Olympic Games.” Olympics, olympics.com/ioc/ancient-olympic-games.

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