5 Old Olympics Facilities You Can Still Visit



5 Old Olympics Facilities You Can Still Visit

The Olympic Games are the leading international sporting events that still bring the world together. Thousands of athletic competitors from more than 200 nations participate and compete for gold, silver, and bronze medals. Media coverage is intense, sports records are broken, and stories of hope, despair, and triumph generate both empathy and world acclaim.

Since the ancient Olympics games held in Olympia, Greece, the winter and summer Olympics evolved into the modern versions we know today, which have taken place at elaborate facilities across the globe. Here are a few you can still visit to relive the glory.

Olympia, Greece: Ancient Olympic Games

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The roots of the Olympic Games are religious and athletic festivals held in honor of Zeus in Olympia on the Peloponnese Peninsula. During classical times, athletics and combat sports such as wrestling, javelin, and horse and chariot racing events were common.

Starting in 776 BC, they continued every four years through Greek and Roman rule until AD 393 when Theodosius suspended them to enforce Christianity. You can immerse yourself in ancient history by exploring the remnants of the once-grand Stadium at Olympia.

Olympia is located a 3.5-hour drive from Athens. Now transformed into a tourist destination, there is plenty to see and do. The archaeological site itself is surrounded by the Museum of the History of the Olympic Games in Antiquity, the Museum of the History of Excavations in Olympia, and the Archaeological Museum of Olympia.

The ancient site lies a brief five-minute walk from the main entrance. The sanctuary includes the gymnasium, the Temple of Hera, the Philippeion, and other fragments of buildings, statues, and monuments.

Berlin, Germany: Olympic Village (1936)

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This is where the Jews were barred from participating in 1936 during the Nazi rule. Berlin was awarded the Olympic contract two years before being taken over by the Nazis. They were the first Olympic games to be broadcast worldwide, and the competitions were not just for athletes but political messages, as well.

The Olympic village was built approximately 20 miles from the western edge of Berlin. The venue includes training facilities, a swimming pool, and low-level dormitories. The 1936 Olympics saw African-American Jesse Owens make history, earning four gold medals in the track and field events and setting three world records in the process. After the Olympics, the facility underwent renovations and became a hospital, then a Soviet military camp. Tours are available; however, be aware that the center is in decay.

Beijing, China: Birds Nest Stadium (2008)

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Designed for the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, the National Stadium—perhaps better known as the Bird’s Nest—was the largest facility created for the games. The one-of-a-kind architecture interprets nature in its rendering of a bird’s nest.

The specifications were daunting: The structure needed to be earthquake-proof, with 111,000 tons of steel and struts, yet visually lightweight, airy, and inspiring. As one of Beijing’s top landmarks, it has hosted many competitions and events. Weight throw, discus, track and field, football, and other sporting events were held at the Bird’s Nest.

For the full visual impact, plan your trip at night to see the artistic illumination. Currently, it is used as a soccer stadium but is open for visitors and will host the 2022 Winter Olympics.

Athens, Greece: Panathenaic Stadium (2004)

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Located on an ancient stadium site from the fourth century, the Panathenaic Stadium is a famous cultural and historic landmark in Athens, Greece. It is built entirely of marble and shaped as a parallelogram. It hosted the first modern games in 1896, and more recently, the 2004 games in Athens. This is where the iconic Olympic flame begins its trek to the new host city for every winter, summer, and youth games.

The Hellenic Olympic Committee owns, operates and manages the Panathenaic Stadium. Its mission is to advance, sponsor, and guard the Olympic Movement day and night, and to encourage the sporting spirit among the next generations. The modern-day stadium accommodates multi-purpose events for conferences, seminars, and athletics. You can take in classical history on a breathtaking tour with a certified guide, audio guide, or interactive nature journey.

Vancouver, Canada: Olympic Village Condos (2010)

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In 2010, Vancouver hosted the Winter Olympics and Paralympics. The Millennium Development Group built one thousand units to accommodate close to 3,000 athletes and visitors. It is touted as the greenest, most environmentally-friendly complex in the world. The structures use natural solar heating, green roof practices, and other sustainable advances.

Do not expect to see artifacts of the 2010 Olympic Games as the property was re-purposed into a mixed-use community and open-space development. This compound is located on the southeast corner of False Creek, which has hiking, biking, shopping, and dog walking paths in a park near the Olympic Village. Vancouver’s famous (and protected) beaver community has taken up residence in the area.

7 sports that are no longer in the Olympics



7 sports that are no longer in the Olympics

Every two years, some of the world’s top athletes convene at a central location and go head-to-head to prove which country reigns supreme in competitive sports. You should know this little event by its formal name, The Olympics.

Whether you prefer the summer or winter version, you might have always wondered if the current lineup of activities has always been this way. Spoiler: It hasn’t. In fact, several have been cut from the roster over the years. With the next Summer Olympics around the corner, let’s take a look at some of the sports that are no longer part of the program.


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Now relegated to summer picnics, family reunions, and awkward corporate retreats, tug-of-war was once an official Olympic sport. The activity first debuted in 1900 at the Paris Olympics and continued in the summer lineup through the 1920 games. (The exception to this was in 1916, which would have been held in Berlin. However, World War I lasted longer than organizers anticipated, and the entire event was canceled.)

Surprisingly, tug-of-war was a hotly contested sport as teams weren’t based on nations but clubs. As a result, a nation could technically win multiple medals by submitting several clubs to compete. For example, the United States swept the winning tallies in the 1904 games and won all three medals in the sport.


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This is an unusual one as softball continues to be added and removed from the program almost at random. If you remember the modern Summer Olympics of the last 20 years, you’ve probably seen softball as one of the competitive events. This popular sport first appeared in the Atlanta 1996 Olympics and continued until the Beijing 2008 Olympics. The sport was cut for the 2012 and 2016 games but is slated to return in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Once again, while this sport was a part of the games, the U.S. won three of the four gold medals.


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Cricket is a fairly popular game in the United Kingdom and India. So you might be surprised that this sport appeared only once, at the Paris 1900 Olympics. During the course of the cricket matches, the teams didn’t even realize they were competing in the Olympics. Somehow, the game was promoted as part of the World’s Fair that was taking place during the same time as the Olympics.

It’s important to note that in the early years of the modern Olympics, the games lasted longer than the two weeks that we expect today. In 1900, they spanned five months between May and October.


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Now a popular high school and college sport, lacrosse was also once part of the Summer Olympics. The sport appeared officially in two programs, the St. Louis 1904 and London 1908 games, yet appeared as an exhibition in several more between 1928 and 1948. For both of the official appearances, Canada won gold. However, much like with tug-of-war, teams weren’t based on countries, and Canada was able to submit two teams in 1904.


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Polo has always been considered an elite sport, and once upon a time, it was an Olympic one as well. However, it received the same treatment as softball and was added and removed multiple times on the official Olympics program. The sport appeared at only five of the nine Olympics between the Paris 1900 and Berlin 1936 games. The 1900 games featured a mixed nationality team that took gold, but in later years the United Kingdom and Argentina each earned two gold medals in polo.

Water motorsports

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After reading this list, you might be wondering what criteria the International Olympic Committee (IOC) uses to make a sport official. One major factor is the number of nations that actively participate in, or plan to participate in, a particular sport. If only one nation submits athletes for an event, that sport will be cut. This is what happened with water motorsports. This broad category appeared at the Paris 1900 and London 1908 games before being removed. And as mentioned, the only nation that submitted competitors was France.

Rugby Union (fifteen-a-side)

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Like some Olympic judging, this one is a bit of a technicality. Officially, rugby is still an Olympic sport, but not fifteen-a-side, or 15 members per team that play 40-minute halves. Rugby Union — which refers to fifteen-a-side — first appeared at the Paris 1900 Olympics. Of all the Olympic games since 1896, this version of rugby has been included in only five official games. The most recent was at the Paris 1924 games. However, Rugby Sevens debuted at the Rio de Janeiro 2016 games and will also be included in the Tokyo 2020 games.

Did any of these sports surprise you? Or is there one that you know is no longer an Olympic sport but we didn’t include on the list? Either way, you’ve got a great list of interesting facts to make you the star of the next trivia night.

Iranian judo agrees to end decades-long boycott of Israeli athletes



Iranian judo agrees to end decades-long boycott of Israeli athletes

Historic commitment comes after talks with International Judo Federation over ‘disturbing phenomenon’ of Iranians throwing matches

Uzbekistan's Bekmurod Oltiboev, in white, competes against Iran's Javad Mahjoub during their men's +100 kg judo bronze medal match at the 18th Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia, Friday, August 31, 2018. (AP/Dita Alangkara)

Uzbekistan’s Bekmurod Oltiboev, in white, competes against Iran’s Javad Mahjoub during their men’s +100 kg judo bronze medal match at the 18th Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia, Friday, August 31, 2018. (AP/Dita Alangkara)

In a historic move, Iranian judo officials have agreed to stop boycotting Israeli athletes on the mat, ending a practice that had drawn criticism against Tehran in the sporting world.

In a letter to the International Judo Federation published Saturday, Iran’s Olympic Committee and local Judo Federation agreed to “fully respect the Olympic Charter and its non-discrimination principle.”

In a statement, the IJF said the letter came after several rounds of talks regarding the “disturbing phenomenon, which involves the sudden ‘injury’ or failure of weigh-in of Iranian athletes,” which it said was related to Iran trying to avoid meeting athletes from certain countries.

Neither Iran nor the IJF specifically mentioned Israel, but Iranian athletes have on several occasions forfeited matches to avoid facing Israelis, who have become increasingly relevant in the sport on the world stage.

Iran’s sports policy is an outgrowth of the country’s official refusal to recognize Israel. Its leaders routinely encourage the demise of the Jewish state and the countries are considered arch foes.

In February, Iranian judoka Saeid Mollaei threw a match at the Paris Grand Slam to avoid facing Israeli Sagi Muki in the next round by feigning an injury, ending his chance at a gold medal. He then recovered to win his bronze medal match, but feigned another injury to avoid standing on the podium with Muki.

According to Israel’s Army Radio, the IJF had threatened to ban Iran from international competitions, including the Olympics, if it did not agree to fight Israelis.

On Saturday, Muki won gold at the Baku Grand Slam, likely securing his place at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

Israel’s Sagi Muki poses on the podium with his gold medal following the men’s under 81 kg weight category competition during the European Judo Championship in the Israeli coastal city of Tel Aviv on April 27, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / JACK GUEZ)

The IJF has in recent years stepped up pressure on Muslim boycotts of Israeli athletes, including refusals to host them or shake hands.

In 2018, the body stripped international competitions from the UAE and Tunisia over their refusal to allow Israelis to compete as Israelis.

The UAE later relented, resulting in the anthem Hatikvah being played in the country for the first time last year after Muki won the gold in the under-81 kg category.

Israeli Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev and Israel Judo Association President Moshe Ponte with medal winners during the women 52 kg medal ceremony at the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam Judo tournament in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)

Iran has had a long-time policy of avoiding Israelis in athletic competitions, frequently at the expense of its own competitors. An Iranian swimmer refused to enter the same pool as an Israeli at the Beijing Olympics and in the 2004 Athens Games, an Iranian judoka refused to face an Israeli, resulting in his disqualification.

In February, after Mollaei threw the match in Paris, Iranian athletics chief  Davoud Azarnoush said he hoped “Israel will be wiped out and annihilated before the next Olympic games, and all of us will breathe a sigh of relief,” according to Radio Farda.

A letter from Iranian judo officials to the IJF, published on May 11, 2019. Click to expand. (IJF)

In the letter to the IJF, the Iranian sports officials said they were negotiating with Iran’s parliament “to identify proper legal resolutions,” seemingly in order to rescind the unofficial ban on competing against Israelis.

Iranians athletes have increasingly found themselves caught between domestic officials, who may punish them for competing against Israelis, and international officials, who will punish them if they forfeit matches. In recent years, an increasing number of Iranian athletes and coaches have spoken out against the policy.

The last competition between Iranian and Israeli teams on the international level dates back to a wrestling match in 1983 in Kiev, Ukraine.

The regime in Iran routinely encourages the demise of Israel, and funds, arms and trains terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and Islamic Jihad in Gaza that avowedly seek the annihilation of the Jewish state. Israel has led international opposition to the 2015 P5+1 powers’ deal with Iran, which was intended to prevent Iran attaining a nuclear weapons arsenal, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accusing the Iranians of lying about their nuclear weapons program and successfully lobbying US President Donald Trump to withdraw from the accord.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.