Fact of the Day
Israel made its Olympic debut at Helsinki in 1952. The Jewish state had been unable to participate at the 1948 Games in London because of its War of Independence. A previous Palestine Mandate team had boycotted the 1936 Games in Berlin in protest of the Nazi regime under Adolf Hitler.
Yoshinori Sakai, who lit the Olympic Flame at Tokyo in 1964, was born in Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, the day an atomic bomb was dropped on that city.
The Melbourne Olympics of 1956 were marked by international tensions but a young Australian, John Ian Wing, came up with a new idea for the Closing Ceremony. Instead of marching as teams, behind their national flags, the athletes mingled with one another as they paraded into and around the arena for a final appearance before the spectators. That began an Olympic tradition that has been followed ever since.
The 1928 Olympics in Amsterdam were officially opened by the Netherlands' Prince Hendrik, consort of Queen Wilhelmina, who had authorised him to deputise for her. She had refused to do it as she was on holiday in Norway and did not want to disrupt that, because she was furious she had not been consulted about the opening date.
Dutch aristocrat Frederik van Tuyll van Serooskerken first proposed Amsterdam as the host city for the 1912 Olympics, before the Netherlands Olympic Committee was established. In 1916, the Olympics were cancelled due to World War One. In 1919, Holland abandoned the proposal of Amsterdam in favour of Antwerp. In 1921 Paris was selected for the 1924 Olympics on condition that 1928 would be given to Amsterdam.
A record 197 nations took part at Atlanta in 1996, with a record 79 of them winning at least one medal. Palestine was allowed to compete in the Olympics for the first time. Also for the first time, Olympic medals were won by the athletes from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Burundi, Ecuador,Georgia, Hong Kong, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Mozambique, Slovakia, Tonga, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.
The first woman to light the Olympic cauldron with the Olympic flame was Norma Enriqueta Basilio de Sotelo at Mexico City in 1968. She represented Mexico in the 80 metres hurdles and 400 metres and the 4x100m relay in the Games. She carried the Olympic Torch again in 2004 when it passed through the Mexican capital on its way to Athens.
Detroit has bid more times for the Olympics without being awarded them than any other city. They have submitted seven bids, starting in 1944 - which was cancelled due to World War Two - and then again for every Games from 1952 through to 1972 before giving up. The closest they came was for the 1968 Olympics when they lost by 16 votes to Mexico City.
The only British-born runner to win a gold medal in the Olympic marathon is Ken McArthur. He was born in Dervock, County Antrim, Northern Ireland, but emigrated to South Africa when he was 20. It was representing them that he won the marathon at Stockholm in 1912, his sixth successive victory at the distance.
Ireland bocyotted the 1936 Olympics in Berlin because of a controversial ruling on borders which restricted the Olympic Council of Ireland's jurisdiction to what was then the Irish Free State, the state established as a dominion under the Anglo-Irish Treaty.
Italian Alberto Braglia was the first man to win successive individual all-round Olympic gymnastic golds when he followed up his title at London in 1908 with a similar success in Stockholm four years later. Afterwards he joined the circus as an acrobat but then returned as Italy's chief coach for Los Angeles in 1932.
Cross country running last featured at an Olympic Games in Paris in 1924 when Finland's Paavo Nurmi won his second consecutive gold medal. But more than half of the 38 runners failed to finish as a result of extremely hot weather and poisonous fumes from a nearby factory.
The last time the Olympic Torch Relay was conducted entirely on foot, without any flights or sea crossings, was for the 1980 Games in Moscow.
When Ethiopian Haile Gebrselassie won the 10,000 metres at the Sydney Olympics in 2000 his winning margin of victory over Kenyan rival Paul Tergat was only 0.09sec, closer than the winning margin in the men's 100m final. That race was won by American Maurice Greene, who beat Trinidad and Tobago's Ato Boldon by 0.12.
The oldest athlete to compete and win a medal at the Olympics is Swedish shooter Oscar Swahn, who was 72 when he won a silver in the 100 metres team running deer, double shots, event at Antwerp in 1920. It was the last of six medals he won in the Games, including three gold, two at London in 1908 and one at Stockholm 1912.