Sunday, 21 Jul 2024

The Olympics and the Seasons

On Auralpressure, we love exploring interesting facts about the Olympics. Recently, we received a message from one of our readers, Hank Wisniewski from Austin, Texas, U.S.A., who shared some fascinating information with us. Today, we want to pass that knowledge along to you.

The First Winter Summer Olympics

Hank pointed out that the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro were unique because they were the first to take place entirely in winter. This is a rare occurrence as a wintertime Summer Olympics only happens in the southern hemisphere. The two previous southern hemisphere Olympic Games, held in Melbourne and Sydney, took place in spring and summer local time. The 2000 Summer Games in Sydney were held completely during spring (15 September 2000 to 1 October 2000), and the Melbourne Summer Olympics were held over spring and summer (22 Nov 1956 to 8 Dec 1956).

Exploring the Timing of the Olympics

Hank also shared some interesting details about the timing of both the Winter and Summer Olympics. While attempting to determine which Summer Olympics took place farthest from the equator and which Winter Olympics were closest, Hank discovered that the variations in the sun’s position throughout the year rendered these facts irrelevant. However, his research led him to a webpage that calculated the sun’s latitude for any given day of the year. Hank subtracted the sun’s latitude on the date between the opening and closing ceremonies from the city’s latitude for each Olympic event. Surprisingly, he found that there was no overlap between the Summer Olympics and Winter Olympics when sorted according to these angles, despite the mere 3.7-degree difference between the lowest sun peak in a Summer Olympics and the highest sun peak in a Winter Olympics.

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Latitude Extremes

Let’s take a look at the top five Summer Olympics where the sun’s latitude was farthest from the host city’s latitude:

  • 1964, Tokyo, Japan (46.0°)
  • 1972, Munich, West Germany (40.8°)
  • 1952, Helsinki, Finland (40.8°)
  • 1988, Seoul, South Korea (39.0°)
  • 1912, Stockholm, Sweden (37.7°)

And now, the top five Winter Olympics where the sun’s latitude was closest to the host city’s latitude:

  • 1960, Squaw Valley, United States (49.7°)
  • 2018, PyeongChang, South Korea (50.0°)
  • 1998, Nagano, Japan (50.3°)
  • 2002, Salt Lake City, United States (53.7°)
  • 1980, Lake Placid, United States (56.6°)

To add to the excitement, here are the extremes:

The Top Five Summer Olympics When & Where the Sun’s Latitude Was/Will Be Closest to the Host City’s Latitude:

  • 1996, Atlanta, United States (14.6°)
  • 1956, Melbourne, Australia (15.8°)
  • 1984, Los Angeles, United States (16.9°)
  • 1932, Los Angeles, United States (17.5°)
  • 2020, Tokyo, Japan (17.8°)

The Top Five Winter Olympics When & Where the Sun’s Latitude Was Farthest from the Host City’s Latitude:

  • 1994, Lillehammer, Norway (73.1°)
  • 1952, Oslo, Norway (71.9°)
  • 1956, Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy (64.3°)
  • 1964, Innsbruck, Austria (64.2°)
  • 1924, Chamonix, France (64.0°)

On another interesting note, the first Olympics to be held within the tropics were the 1968 Summer Games in Mexico City. The 2016 Olympic Games in Rio became the second to take place within the tropics.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: Which Olympics took place closest to the equator?

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A: The Tokyo Olympics in 1964 were held closest to the equator, with a latitude of 46.0°.

Q: Which Winter Olympics experienced the highest sun peak?

A: The Lillehammer Winter Olympics in 1994 had the highest sun peak at a latitude of 73.1°.


The timing and location of the Olympic Games offer fascinating insights into the relationship between the seasons and the world’s greatest sporting event. As we look forward to future Olympics, we can appreciate the unique circumstances that each host city brings to the table. Remember, you can always find more intriguing articles and information like this on Auralpressure.