Boycotts! Bans! Protests! Drugs! Think you've got gold medal knowledge about politics at the Olympics? Test what you know with this special Tokyo Olympics Quiz. And to stay current on all the latest political stories at the Games and around the world, subscribe here to Signal, our daily newsletter. Now, without further ado, the first question is...
1. Once all the costs of the pandemic are computed, Tokyo 2020 could become the costliest Games of all time. But, which Olympics have been the most expensive to date?
A. Sochi 2014
B. Rio de Janeiro 2016
C. London 2012
2. It's not the first time that a virus has threatened the Games. In 2016, the Brazilian government resisted strong pressure to cancel the Rio de Janeiro Olympics over...
3. US sprinter Sha'Carri Richardson will not compete in Tokyo because of a one-month suspension for cannabis use. The last athlete to test positive for the drug — which is banned despite not being performance-enhancing — at the Olympics was from this country:
4. Tokyo won its first bid to host the Games in 1940. Why was it nixed?
A. The IOC didn't accept sumo wrestling
B. World War II
C. Japan invaded China
5. Russian athletes will compete in Tokyo under what name?
B. No name, using the Olympic flag
6. For Tokyo 2020, the IOC has (somewhat) relaxed its longtime ban on political protests at the Games, which a bunch of athletes ignored throughout history — including the two US runners who in 1968 raised their fists during an awards ceremony to protest racial segregation in America. That same year, a gymnast from which country also defied the ban by turning her head away from the Soviet flag?
7. Tokyo 2020 medals will be made of...
A. Gold, silver, and bronze — duh
B. Fallen scales from Godzilla's tail
C. Recycled precious metals from electronic devices
8. A Japanese woman recently went viral for doing what to protest Tokyo holding the Olympics amid the pandemic?
A. Refusing to politely bow to visiting government officials
B. Spanking a member of Japan's Olympic Committee with an onsen paddle
C. Squirting water at the flame of the Olympic Torch when it passed through her hometown
9. Which of the Guineas of Africa has reversed its decision to pull out of Tokyo due to COVID?
A. Equatorial Guinea
10. Speaking of boycotts, calls are growing for Western nations to boycott next year's Beijing Winter Olympics over China's human rights abuses in Xinjiang. So far, which is the only Western leader to have accepted Xi Jinping's invitation to attend?
A. Viktor Orbán, Prime Minister of Hungary
B. Andrzej Duda, President of Poland
C. Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Prime Minister of Greece
1. A — No one really knows how much Sochi 2014 really cost Russia, although the consensus figure — including non-sports infrastructure — is roughly $50 billon. The organizers spent a whopping $9.4 billion (more than the entire budget of the previous winter Games in Vancouver) on a 25-mile road from Sochi's coast to the ski resort of Krasnaya Polyana in the North Caucasus. Olympics always run over budget, but Sochi took it to a whole new level.
2. B — Months before the Rio Olympics, medical experts and athletes were extremely worried about the mosquito-borne Zika virus, which can cause severe brain abnormalities in children whose mothers were infected while pregnant . Despite Brazil being the epicenter of Zika, in the end the organizers and the World Health Organization decided to go ahead with the Games, and no one got the virus.
3. A — After winning the men's giant slalom event at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Canadian snowboarder Ross Rebagliati tested positive for cannabis. The IOC initially stripped him of the gold medal, but days later an appeals court restored it because the drug was not yet on the IOC list of banned substances (it was added later). Rebagliati is now a successful cannabis entrepreneur in Canada, where recreational weed has been legal since 2018.
4. C — Wow, the IOC had serious Axis powers vibes back in the day. After Nazi Germany got the 1936 Games, that same year they awarded the 1940 Olympics to the capital of then-Imperial Japan. A year later, Tokyo was booted over the Japanese invasion of China and replaced by Helsinki, but then the event was cancelled anyway when World War II broke out in 1939.
5. C — "ROC" stands for Russian Olympic Committee, but the name can't be spelled out on official paperwork to comply with International Olympic Committee sanctions against Russia over the doping scandal at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games. The sanctions ban the use of the word "Russia" or any national symbols (although the three color blocks of the Russian flag will be on the athletes' tracksuits).
6. C — In Mexico City, Věra Čáslavská discreetly looked down and away while the national anthem of the USSR was played during an awards ceremony to denounce the Soviet repression of the Prague Spring protests earlier that year. Although her bold gesture won her many fans at home, Čáslavská was soon ostracized and ultimately forced to retire by the ruling communists in Czechoslovakia.
7. C — In line with Tokyo's ambition to hold the most environmentally-friendly Olympics ever, all 5,000 medals have been made from recycled electronic waste collected from the Japanese public and businesses. The organizers started asking people to donate their discarded computers and smartphones way back in 2017.
8. C — Kayoko Takahashi, 53, was briefly arrested after trying to extinguish the flame of the Tokyo-bound torch as it passed through her hometown of Mito by squirting it with a water gun. Takahashi opposed the Games because they would lead to a massive COVID outbreak in Japan, where only a small percentage of the population is vaccinated. Interestingly, there have been multiple similar incidents during the torch relay in previous Olympics.
9. B — Two days before the inauguration ceremony in Tokyo, the West African country of Guinea-Conakry announced it would no longer send its athletes to protect them from COVID variants in Japan. Less than 24 hours later the government reversed course, and agreed to participate. So far, the only country to have officially boycotted the Games over virus concerns is North Korea, which to this day still claims to have not registered a single COVID case.
10. C — Right when the European Parliament was getting ready to vote on a resolution calling for EU leaders to stay away from Beijing 2022, Mitsotakis broke ranks by saying he'll go. Despite skepticism from Brussels and Washington, Greece has warmed to China in recent years, and has benefited from Chinese infrastructure investment through the Belt and Road Initiative.