Five for Friday: Olympic Medals

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Five for Friday: Olympic Geography

In case you weren’t aware, the Summer Olympic Games will officially open tonight in London, England. Athletes from throughout the world have traveled to Great Britain for a fortnight, in hopes of returning home with the glory of an Olympic medal. During these special two weeks, basketball celebrities will share the same stage as relatively unknown fencing and handball stars, all basking in equal glory.
But where do all these players come from? Where do the Olympics take place? Are all of these sports are competed in London, in just two weeks? All of these answers, and more, await in our weekly Five for Friday series.
1. Host Cities of the Olympics (1896-2018)
Since the first modern-day Olympics took place in Athens in 1896, the Olympics have been held on four of the world’s seven continents. Although Brazil is slated to host the games in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, the Olympics have yet to take place in the southern hemisphere, save Australia (where they have been held twice).
London will soon hold the distinction of having hosted the Olympics three times, a unique feat in the Games’ reincarnation. The only other cities to have hosted multiple times are Los Angeles, Lake Placid, Paris, and Athens. 
Of similar interest, few countries have ever host both summer and winter Olympic Games.  Canada, the United States, France, Japan, Italy, and Germany are the only countries to have had that honor, with South Korea and Russia set to join them within the decade.
Map courtesy of Maps of World.

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Wednesday Word of the Week: patriotic

patriotic (pay-tree-AH-tihk) adj. supporting and celebrating a nation and its people (National Geographic Education).
As you celebrate July 4th today with families and friends, think for a moment, what exactly are you celebrating?  
Is it the United States‘ declaration of independence from Great Britain?
Is it the sacrifices made by our soldiers?
Is it the pride you feel by living in this country?
Or is it just a good excuse to barbeque?
Perhaps it is all of the above!  After all, July 4th is a patriotic event, celebrating all that defines a nation and its people.  In the United States, patriotism is expressed in various ways.  High flying flags, the national anthem, and national holidays all help to make the United States the most patriotic country in the world, according to the University of Chicago’s National Opinion Research Center (NORC).
The United States is the “world’s most patriotic country,” according to a University of Chicago survey.
Photo courtesy of Joe Pratt Jr., MyShot.
The NORC survey, last administered in 2003, ranks countries on their citizens’ pride in living in their respective country, as well as how they view their state in relation to other countries throughout the world (as inferior or superior).  Tied atop the rankings is an often arch-rival of the United States on the international political scene, Venezuela.  Other countries rounding out the top ten: Australia, South Africa, Austria, Canada, Chile, New Zealand, The Philippines, and Israel.

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Design Your Own Olympic Logo!

800px-Olympic_flag_transparent.svg.pngWhat’s in a logo? When it comes to the Olympic games: geography.

While the concept of a “logo” is a relatively modern phenomenon spurred by the rise of capitalism and reproducible print, the Olympics have long been infused with geographic symbolism. Take the Olympic flag, for starters: The five interlocking rings are typically taken to represent the Americas, Europe, Asia, Africa and Oceania. Why are the North and South American continents lumped together? That’s a political question I hope another geographer out there can answer!

In addition to universal Olympic symbols like the torch and five-ring flag, each of the host cities supporting the modern games has developed icons to mark its unique incarnation of the event. Almost always, the posters, medals, and logos evoke a strong sense of place. The reasons are obvious: Olympics provide a great sense of pride for the host city, and often serve as a “coming out party” on the world stage. Let’s take a look at a sampling of Olympic logos from 1896 – 2016 to investigate how geography factors into design.

Disclaimer: I am NOT an art history or graphics expert, so I welcome YOUR input on this topic!

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Beijing Retrospective

News reports today lauded Beijing’s
well-coordinated efforts as the Olympic Games drew to a close. The “gigantic party” of the closing
ceremonies last night complemented the eye-popping, highly-orchestrated opening
ceremonies of August 8 – an appropriate celebration for China’s massive accomplishment,
according to the Washington Post. An anchor from Thailand’s national television said
the Beijing Olympics was the most wonderful one in history, and the organizing
work was perfect. The anchor said the
Games provided an opportunity for the world to further understand the
developing China, and
cemented the links between China
and the rest of the world, embodying the slogan “One world, One dream.”


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