The Olympics aren't just fun and games. There's also debt and, sadly, death. Before we get to 4 scandals for which the Summer Games are infamous, here's a short history of the modern Olympics.
The first modern Olympics were held in 1896 in Athens; they were cooked up by a French nobleman interested in regaining honor for his country after its defeat in the Franco-Prussian War; when the games came back to Greece in 2004, the country’s spending binge on Olympics preparation helped drive them into debt. The 1904 Olympics were supposed to be in Chicago, but in a bit of a role reversal the city got strong-armed by St. Louis World’s Fair organizers and the Olympics were moved to Missouri.
The first modern Olympics to be canceled due to war were the 1916 Berlin Games. Though Germany was banned from the subsequent 1920 and 1924 Olympics after losing World War I, they were awarded the 1936 Olympics, which Adolf Hitler used to showcase the rise of his Nazi Party to political power. The flame from the 1936 Olympics never made it to Tokyo, which was awarded the 1940 Olympics. Imperial Japan backed out of the Olympics, because they were getting ready for war. The games were moved to Helsinki, but the outbreak of World War II meant a second cancellation.
The 1944 Olympics in London, scheduled just months before Germany invaded Poland in 1939 and started World War II, were also cancelled. The summer games were held in London when they resumed in 1948 instead. Because of post-war conditions, the 1948 Olympics were called the “Austerity Games.” Athletes were asked to bring their own towels; lest you think the current London Games, too, are in an age of austerity, they include 150,000 free condoms for the Olympic Village. In 1948, things were so tough that there was no Olympic Village.
After the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979, the U.S. boycotted the Summer Olympics when they were held in Moscow in 1980. The Soviets led a counter-boycott when the Games were held in 1984 in Los Angeles. Peter Ueberroth saved those Olympics, with the help of the Chinese, but unlike Mitt Romney, he never ran for president.
NEXT: About that Atlanta Bomber...