If any of you caught the opening ceremonies of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, you might have noticed the minor error that occurred during the unveiling of the Olympic rings. Five massive, glowing snowflakes were designed to gradually open and form the iconic symbol of the games, but the fifth one failed to open up entirely. The resulting visual of four Olympic rings and a snowflake was quickly removed from sight, but not before the Internet could use the image in a myriad of memes mocking the Russians for their failure.
Although Vladimir Putin may have liked to thank the person responsible for the incident Soviet-style, this is not the first time something has gone wrong in an opening ceremony. In fact, there are a lot of interesting, odd tidbits about past Olympic games that you might not know.
• During the opening ceremony of the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea, white doves were released to symbolize peace. However, the burning alive of many of the doves as a result of their close proximity to the Olympic cauldron likely snuffed the sense of peace that the planners had intended.
• At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the government restricted the driving of cars to only every other day. This was done in an attempt to lower the city’s infamous pollution during the games. Given the perpetually high level of air pollution in China’s large cities, the measure has since been made permanent.
• During the opening ceremony of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, four pillars were supposed to rise from the ground and catch fire, and a person at the base of each was supposed to light a torch from the flames. One of the pillars malfunctioned, however, failing to rise and catch fire, leaving its torchbearer standing there awkwardly.
• The modern Olympic games have been canceled three times, each time because of war. The 1916 games in Berlin were canceled due to World War I, and the next World War led to the cancellation of the 1940 and 1944 games as well.
• Because of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan prior to the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow, the United States led a widespread boycott of the event. As a result, there were only two teams competing in women’s field hockey: the Soviet Union and Zimbabwe. Although its team had been put together last-minute, Zimbabwe defeated the Soviets in the match.
• The opening ceremony for Beijing’s Olympics in 2008 featured a precious little girl singing a beautiful solo. However, it was soon revealed that the girl was lip-synching; the girl who had actually sung was deemed by the ceremony’s planners to be too ugly, so she was kept out of the limelight.
• At London’s 2012 Olympic Games, the North Korean women’s football (soccer) team delayed its game against Colombia for an hour. The reason? The team members had been introduced on a large television screen showing their pictures next to an image of the South Korean flag. Awkward much?