Cynicism created by the controversies at various Summer Olympics is overshadowed by incredible athletic achievements witnessed by the world. Each time the Olympiad arrives, women and men push the boundaries of what’s possible in terms of the strength, endurance and agility of human physiology. Adding to these amazing accomplishments, the Olympics have also been an event where human rights advancements are showcased...
Especially for women and athletes struggling against racial prejudice. Arguably the second biggest sporting event behind the FIFA World Cup, the Summer Olympics is a tradition with roots that stretch back thousands of years.
As is often the case when the Summer Olympics come around, we look back on what has happened in the history of this great event. With the Rio de Janeiro Olympics last, we now head to Japan for the Tokyo 2020 games. But, before we do that, we will have a look at the top 10 games of all time.
1. London, Great Britain - 2012
The 2012 Summer Games marked a historic moment, as London became the first city to host the games on three occasions. London held the games in 1908 and 1948, offering a great deal of history and excellent facilities across the board. The Olympic Stadium was wonderfully created and saw many records broken, while the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in East London brought life to the area and was one of the best inner-city developments we’ve seen at any games.
2. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 2016
While it was initially very controversial, the Rio games went down very well. Having hosted the soccer world cup just a few years before, there was already a lot of new development in the city. The stunning backdrop for the games in combination with the near-perfect weather made it truly a game to remember.
3. Beijing, China - 2008
The opening ceremony for the Beijing Olympics was awe-inspiring, raising the bar for all future games. The Beijing National Stadium was quite spectacular to boot, nicknamed “The Bird’s Nest.” With a capacity of 80,000, it was an incredible venue for the athletics and football finals. The Beijing Aquatics Center was also a site to remember, and one which other countries will struggle to top in the coming years. Also, American swimming champion Michael Phelps famously won eight gold medals.
4. Montreal, Canada - 1976
Montreal’s Olympics will also be remembered for one unique athlete named Nadia Comaneci, who was the first gymnast to earn a perfect 10 in competition. Another thing that will stick in the minds of athletics fans for years to come is the modern Montreal Olympic Park, which was designed by French architect Roger Taillibert. The stadium is still used as a multi-purpose venue today.
5. Athens, Greece - 2004
There’s something about Athens and the Olympics Games that people can relate to and visualize. The games stretch back all the way to 776 B.C. to 393 A.D., where the games took place in Olympia. The first modern Olympic Games took place back in 1896. With the 2004 games, there was a certain air about the event. The Archers in the ancient Panathinaiko Stadium and the Olympia Stadium really were some of the best.
6. Atlanta, USA - 1996
Atlanta marked the Olympics' 100th anniversary, with the USA winning the bid for the games and managed to put on a real show. The Centennial Olympic Stadium held some 85,000 seats and was the focal point of the games in 1996. The Stadium was meant to last the length of time, not just for the games, meaning it featured some luxury boxes and breath-taking high tiers of outfield seats, with the stadium eventually turning into the baseball stadium Turner Field.
7. Barcelona, Spain - 1992
The 1992 Barcelona games transformed the city, with a rejuvenated beach and huge construction is done on the city’s small hill Montjuic. Men’s basketball was one of the highlight events, as basketball is Spain’s second-most popular national sport. The USA claimed the gold, but the city benefitted from gold. As the eye-catching stadiums and new architecture breathed life back into a city that was struggling with a number of issues around that time.
8. Los Angeles, USA - 1984
Los Angeles is an iconic city and was meant to host the 1976 games, but lost out due to financial issues. However, the 1984 games were much better, using famous locations like The Rose Bowl and Los Angeles Coliseum, both used during the 1932 games as well. There were two new venues constructed for the games, which were the Velodrome and Swim Stadium. The Coliseum is in fact still used today for USC football games.
9. Sydney, Australia - 2000
As the year 2000 came in there was a certain mood about the world, especially the sporting world. So, hosting the games in the beautiful Australian sun and spectacular climate of the Southern Hemisphere was just what the world needed. The Summer Games many would argue are the best ever and one which made a statement regarding more than just sport, with the environmental climate change features setup within the Olympic Park. The 2000 Olympics were held in the largest ever outdoor venue for the games, with a state-of-the-art closing roof.
10. Moscow, USSR - 1980
We have to go all the way back to the 80s for the Moscow games, which is largely remembered for a boycott that saw over 65 nations, including the USA, Canada and China. In spite of that, the games were held in the Grand Sports Arena of the Luzhniki Olympic Complex. This colossal venue hosted over 100,000 as it hosted the opening and closing ceremonies and continues to be a stadium for major international sporting events today.