Just days after the start of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, we can’t believe how many issues are still plaguing these Games. The water is sickly gross, the accommodations in Olympic Village are hazardous, and the possibility of being affected by the Zika virus is real. These Olympics have a chance to be among the most disastrous we’ve ever seen — and that’s saying something.
We usually envision the Olympic Games as a time of great joy. The best athletes from around the world come together, compete on behalf of their country, and vie for something that, when it’s all said and done, is much more important than a medal: national pride. The only problem: The Games themselves aren’t always full of happiness and jubilation.
Throughout history, the Olympics has seen its fair of tragedy. Some circumstances are mild; others, not so much. Just like the Olympics themselves, tragedy can bring people — and countries — together as they show solidarity and pride. Regardless, we hope the 2016 Rio Olympics are safe and fun for everyone involved.
In our opinion, these are the six worst things to ever happen at the Olympics.
1. Who kicks a referee?
We’ve seen instances of unsportsmanlike conduct before, but nothing quite like what Cuba’s Angel Matos did during the bronze-medal taekwondo match at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. After being disqualified for taking too much injury time, Matos reacted in a matter unbecoming of the Olympics Games, as he kicked the referee — Chakir Chelbat of Sweden — right in the face. This incident immediately prompted the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) to recommend and enforce a lifetime ban for Matos.
2. Those poor doves
The lighting of the Olympic cauldron at the opening ceremony of the Games is usually a beautiful spectacle to behold. That was not the case during the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea. Instead of releasing ceremonial doves after the cauldron was lit, the exact opposite happened, resulting in some of the birds being burned alive. At least this awful displayed wasn’t televised — oh wait, it was. Oops.
3. The 1960 Games do not go as planned
Many memorable things occurred during the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome. Not only was it the first Olympics to be broadcasted live across Europe, but it was also when the world got introduced to Muhammad Ali, then Cassius Clay, who won gold in the light-heavyweight division. Unfortunately, not all of these memorable moments were positive.
These Games also featured the first-ever doping scandal, when Danish cyclist Knud Jensen, who was found to have Roniacol in his system, collapsed during a race and died the same day because of a fractured skull. This was a horrible event, and one that changed the Olympics forever.
4. Boycott at the 1980 Summer Olympics
After the Soviet Union failed to remove its troops from Afghanistan, President Jimmy Carter announced that the United States would be boycotting the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow. While this decision was popular among the American people, with 55% supporting the move, Olympians did not feel the same way.
Said Julian Roosevelt, an American member of the International Olympic Committee: “Any boycott isn’t going to change the Soviets’ mind and isn’t going to get troops out of Afghanistan. I’m as patriotic as the next guy, but the patriotic thing to do is for us to send a team over there and whip their ass.
5. Bombing at Centennial Olympic Park
You can’t discuss the 1996 Summer Olympic in Atlanta and not talk about the bombing that took place at Centennial Olympic Park. This horrible act of terrorism resulted in the death of two people (one directly, one later of a heart attack), over 100 injured, and the false accusation of security guard Richard Jewell. Eventually, the real bomber, Eric Robert Rudolph, was captured and sentenced to four consecutive life terms.
6. Munich Massacre
The Munich Massacre is easily the worst thing to ever happen at the Olympics.
The 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich featured an act of horror unlike anything we’ve ever experienced at the Olympic Games. On September 5, a Palestinian terrorist group called “Black September” raided the apartment of Israeli athletes in Olympic Village. They killed two athletes and took another nine individuals hostage. In the end, all nine Israeli hostages were killed, as well as five terrorists and one West German police officer.