National anthems at the Olympics… in numbers!

  • 54: anthems played at the Games, one more than at Beijing
  • 46: number of times The Star-Spangled Banner was played, eight more than any other
  • 4: number of times it was played for Michael Phelps
  • 13: anthems played that weren’t at Beijing, including Algeria’s slightly unusual effort
  • 13: anthems lost since Beijing, including, sadly, Mongolia’s
  • 8/1: odds you could get on the wrong anthem being played at a medal ceremony
  • £0: money you’d have won on that bet
  • 1: anthem complaint
  • 210: seconds that the London Philharmonic Orchestra cut out of the world’s best anthem, Uruguay’s, to make sure it met Olympic rules on length
  • 210,000: number of newspaper articles published pointing out that Uruguay’s anthem had been cut
  • 0: number of times Uruguay’s anthem was actually played
  • 1: number of times IOC president Jacques Rogge shoehorned a reference to God Save the Queen into his closing speech (“These were happy and glorious games”)
  • 80,000: number of people in the Olympic stadium who didn’t get the reference
  • 1: Li-Cheng Tseng (pictured above), a Taiwanese Taekwondoist, who provided easily my favourite anthem moment of the Games.
    She was favourite to win her class, and ended up third behind Britain’s Jade Jones, but I’ve never seen someone so happy to be standing on a podium collecting a bronze. She stood and listened to God Save the Queen like it was her own. And she’s still smiling now!

If you can think of any others please let me know

2 thoughts on “National anthems at the Olympics… in numbers!

  1. Actually, Uruguay’s anthem was played three times during the London Olympics – in all three cases, they were played before the group stage games of their Olympic football team, just like in any international game.

    However, the anthem was drowned out in boos from the British crowds for two reasons: The accusations of racism against one of Uruguay’s three over-age players – Luis Suarez – and Uruguay’s support of Argentina on the Falklands/Malvinas issue which flared up at the same time Suarez was accused of racism, leading to very strong anti-Uruguay sentiment across the United Kingdom with half-racist claims like “in Uruguay it’s a sign of respect to bite people and lynch blacks” eventhough Uruguay are one of the most peaceful and tolerant countries in South America. Uruguay’s FA even filed a protest against their anthem being booed at the Olympics.

    • Hi Anthony – thanks for correcting me about the Uruguay anthem.
      I forgot to count the football matches, probably because I don’t really think football should be in the Olympics!
      But just to say although there was disgusting booing of the anthem because of Suarez, it was solely because of that. No one in Britain (apart from maybe a handful of idiots) thinks the people of Uruguay are racist and definitely not that they lynch anyone (that’d be a global news story, right?), and unfortunately no one here really pays attention to Uruguay’s views on anything, let alone whether they support Argentina’s position on the Falklands.
      I’m always disgusted by booing at sports events, but let’s not spread rumours based off it!

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