Tokyo 2020 Summer Games
The Games of the XXXII Olympiad—the 2020 Summer Olympics—were held in Tokyo, Japan, in 2021, after being postponed for a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The opening ceremony was on July 23, 2021, with the closing ceremony on August 8, 2021. Over 200 nations and more than 11,000 athletes competed.
The motto of the Tokyo Olympics was “United by Emotion.”
The Ancient Olympics
The ancient Greeks dedicated the Olympic Games to the god Zeus. The original games were held on the plain of Olympia in Peloponnesos, Greece.
The Greeks held the first Olympic games in the year 776 BC (over 2700 years ago), and had only one event, a sprint (a short run that was called the “stade”). The race was run by men who competed in the nude. A wreath of olive branches was placed on the winner’s head (in Greek, this is called a kotinos). The olive tree was the sacred tree of Athens, Greece.
Women were neither allowed to compete in the games nor to watch them, because the games were dedicated to Zeus and were therefore meant for men.
The four-year period between the Olympic games was called an olympiad. Every four years, for 1,170 years, the Greeks held an Olympics, which continued to grow and change. Many other sports were added, including other races, wrestling, boxing, pentathlon (five events, including the long jump, javelin throw, discus throw, foot race, and wrestling), and equestrian events (events with horses and people, like chariot races and horse races) The Olympic games were banned by the Byzantine Emperor Theodosius II in the year AD 394.
The Modern Olympics
Over a fifteen hundred years later, Pierre de Frédy, Baron de Coubertin (1863-1937) (a French educator and sportsman) revived the Olympic Games. An all-male Olympic games were held in 1896, in Athens, Greece. The first winter Olympics were held in 1924, in Chamonix, France.
The Flag of the Olympic Games
The flag of the Olympic Games has five interlocking rings (blue, yellow, black, green, and red) on a white ground. The rings represent the five parts of the world that were joined together in the Olympic movement: Africa, the Americas, Asia, Australia and Europe. Baron de Coubertin designed the flag of the Olympics in 1913-1914.
The Olympic flag was first used in the 1920 Olympic Games in Antwerp, Belgium. The Olympic flag is paraded during the opening ceremony of each Olympic Games. At the end of an Olympics, the mayor of the host-city presents the flag to the mayor of the next host-city. The flag will remain in the town hall of the next host-city until the next Olympic Games, four years later.
History of the Olympic Flame
The tradition of the Olympic flame began during the ancient Olympic Games, over 2700 years ago in Greece. A flame was lit for each Olympics, every four years, and it burned throughout the games. The flame symbolized the death and rebirth of Greek heroes. There was no torch relay in the ancient Olympics. The first torch relay took place at the 1936 games in Berlin, Germany.
The Torches of the Olympics
For each Olympics, a new flame is started in the ancient Olympic stadium in Olympia, Elis, Greece, using a parabolic mirror to focus the rays of the Sun. This flame begins its Olympic Torch Relay by touring Greece. The flame is normally taken to the country where the games will be held (usually by airplane). Following that, the flame is then carried around the country where the games are to be held, using a series of torches carried by people running, walking, riding horses and camels, scuba diving, and using other means of human conveyance. The last runner uses a torch to light the large Olympic torch which burns throughout the games. The flame is extinguished during the closing ceremony. A new Olympic torch is designed for each of the games.
The Olympic Motto
The Olympic motto is, “Citius, Altius, Fortius,” which means “Swifter, Higher, Stronger.”
The events in the Winter Olympics include: ice hockey, figure skating, speed skating, snowboarding, luge, bobsleigh, skeleton (a type of sledding), curling, cross-country skiing, freestyle skiing, slalom, downhill (Alpine) skiing, freestyle skiing, ski jumping, Nordic combined (skiing plus ski jumping), and biathlon (skiing and shooting).
The events in the Summer Olympics include: archery, badminton, baseball, basketball, boxing, canoeing, cycling, diving, equestrian, fencing, football (soccer), gymnastics, handball, hockey, judo, kayaking, marathon, pentathlon, ping pong, rowing, sailing, shooting, swimming, taekwando, tennis, track and field (many running, jumping, and throwing events), triathlon, volleyball, water polo, weightlifting, and wrestling (freestyle and Greco-Roman).
At the Ancient Olympics, a wreath of olive branches was placed on the winner’s head (in Greek, this is called a kotinos).
At the modern Olympics, each first-place winner receives a gold medal, each second-place winner receives a silver medal, and each third-place winner receives a bronze medal (the bronze medal was introduced in 1904). Different medals are designed for each new Olympics. Certificates called victory diplomas are also given to many top winners in each sport.
Sites of the Modern-Day Olympics
|Summer Olympics||Winter Olympics|
|1896 - Athens, Greece|
|1900 - Paris, France|
|1904 - St. Louis, Missouri, USA|
|1906 - Athens, Greece|
|1908 - London, England|
|1912 - Stockholm, Sweden|
|1916 - Canceled (World War I)|
|1920 - Antwerp, Belgium|
|1924 - Paris, France||1924 - Chamonix, France|
|1928 - Amsterdam, Holland||1928 - St. Moritz, Switzerland|
|1932 - Los Angeles, California, USA||1932 - Lake Placid, New York, USA|
|1936 - Berlin, Germany||1936 - Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany|
|1940 - Canceled - World War II||1940 - Canceled - World War II|
|1944 - Canceled - World War II||1944 - Canceled - World War II|
|1948 - London, England||1948 - St. Moritz, Switzerland|
|1952 - Helsinki, Finland||1952 - Oslo, Norway|
|1956 - Melbourne, Australia||1956 - Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy|
|1960 - Rome, Italy||1960 - Squaw Valley, California, USA|
|1964 - Tokyo, Japan||1964 - Innsbruck, Austria|
|1968 - Mexico City, Mexico||1968 - Grenoble, France|
|1972 - Munich, Germany||1972 - Sapporo, Japan|
|1976 - Montreal, Quebec, Canada||1976 - Innsbruck, Austria|
|1980 - Moscow, USSR||1980 - Lake Placid, New York, USA|
|1984 - Los Angeles, California, USA||1984 - Sarajevo, Yugoslavia|
|1988 - Seoul, South Korea||1988 - Calgary, Alberta, Canada|
|1992 - Barcelona, Spain||1992 - Albertville, France|
|1994 - Lillehammer, Norway|
|1996 - Atlanta, Georgia, USA||1998 - Nagano, Japan|
|2000 - Sydney, Australia||2002 - Salt Lake City, Utah, USA|
|2004 - Athens, Greece||2006 - Turin, Italy|
|2008 - Beijing, China||2010 - Vancouver, Canada|
|2012 - London, United Kingdom||2014 - Sochi, Russia|
|2016 - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil||2018 - PyeongChang, South Korea|
|2020 - Tokyo, Japan (postponed until 2021 due to COVID-19)||2022 - Beijing, China|
|2024 - Paris, France|
Olympics-Related Books to Print
Print a short printable Olympic-theme book with activities. Connect the dots, color by number, a maze, finish the drawing, unscramble the words, wordsearch puzzle, and a word path puzzle.
Print a short book about the Olympics. Pages on the ancient Olympics, the Olympic flame, the Olympic flag, the Summer and Winter Games, Olympic awards, and recent Olympic locations.
A book about Greece for fluent readers. Pages on the map, flag, language, Ancient Greece, the Olympics, and the Greek Gods and Mount Olympus.
Olympics-Related Printouts, Worksheets, and Activities
Color an Olympics flag and read about the man who revived the Olympics and designed its flag.
Color an olive branch wreath (a kotinos), which was placed on the head of a winner of the ancient Greek Olympics.
Make an Olympics word wheel using this 2-page printout. It consists of a base page together with a wheel that spins around.
When you spin the wheel, eight Olympics words are formed, one at a time: athlete, torch, sports, medal, Greece, team, flame, and wreath. The student then writes down the Olympics word-wheel words.
See how many Olympic Game terms you know.
Use the table to answer the questions about the athletes, their sports and their medals. Or go to the answers, or to a pdf of the quiz and the answers (site members only).
Geography, maps, the flag, and printouts on Greece.
See the 24-character alphabet and read about its ancient history.
Use the alphabet code to find the secret sports message. Answer: “It doesn’t matter if you win or lose, it’s how you play the game.”
There are many unusual Olympic sports, like skeleton (running and then sledding), biathlon (skiing plus shooting), and curling (using brooms to propel an object over ice). Make up a new sport that would be fun to watch and play, then write about it.
What is your favorite sport? Why do you like it, and what do you like best about it?
One of the greatest track and field athletes of all time.
Think of and write eight words related to the Olympics. Then, for each word, write a sentence containing the word. Sample words: games, sports, race, win, lose, medal, gold, silver.
Write a sentence for each of the sports spelling words. Words: race, run, jump, team, win, lose, champion, play, sports, game.
Write a poem about the Olympics. Start each line with a letter from the word “Olympics.”
Write a poem about games. Start each line with a letter from the word “GAMES.”
A one-page printable worksheet. Write ten things about the Olympics (plus one thing you would like to change about it).
See if you can think of and write down an Olympic Games-related word that starts with each letter of the alphabet. Or go to a sample answer page.
Printouts, books, quizzes, and activities about sports.
Past Olympics: Printouts and Activities
Sydney, Australia, hosted the 2000 Summer Olympics. For information and activities on Australia, click here. For a page on Australia’s flag, click here. The opening ceremonies were on September 15, 2000; the closing ceremonies were on October 1, 2000.
Pyeongchang, in South Korea, hosted the 2018 Winter Olympics.
For a page on South Korea’s flag, click here. For information and activities on the countries of Asia, click here. The opening ceremonies were on February 9, 2018, and the closing ceremonies were on February 25, 2018.
Tokyo, Japan, hosted the 2020 Summer Olympics in 2021, after being postponed for a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
For information and activities on Japan, click here. For a page on Japan’s flag, click here. The opening ceremonies were on July 23, 2021, and the closing ceremonies were on August 8, 2021.
Medals to Print Out and Award to Kids
Easy-to-make medals to award at parties! This is not a printout, but a simple craft made from the lid of a frozen juice can.
Information on Japan, including maps, the flag, printouts, the Japanese language, and arts and crafts activities.
The Olympic Flame and Torch Relay, with a coloring page of the torch from the Sydney Olympics in 2000.
The Olympic Medals - Read about the Olympic medals, and see the Australian and Greek imagery used in the medals awarded to the winners of the Sydney Olympics.
Information on Greece, including maps, the flag, printouts, quizzes, and coloring activities.