Why Nobody Uses The Olympic Salute Anymore

Why Nobody Uses The Olympic Salute Anymore

In the Olympic salute, which remains the official one to this day, the right arm should be held straight, pointing in an upward angle slightly to the side. By comparison, in the Nazi salute, the right arm should be held straight, pointing in an upward angle in front of the body. Understandably, when these two salutes are used at the same event, as they were at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, confusion ensues. At those opening ceremonies, spectators couldn't tell whether the non-German teams were using the official Olympic salute to commemorate the Games or if they were "heiling Hitler" to support Nazi Germany. But it wasn't just those watching who were confused. As Frederick T. Birchall wrote in the New York Times, "Some teams apparently did not know the difference between the Olympic and Nazi salutes and rendered mixed homage. The Nazi salute was given by Afghanistan, Bermuda, Bolivia and Iceland, besides, of course, Italy which originated it, and the Germans." The two salutes, along with the Bellamy salute once used to salute the American flag, may owe their similarity to the Ancient Romans, who are said to have used a similar pose in their military salutes. Hear more strange things about the Olympics below.

Here's Why The Olympic Salute Has Fallen Out Of Favor

Nobody really thought that one through.

50 Facts About The Olympics

There were only 14 events in the 1896 Olympics. Guess how many there are now?

Events That Are No Longer In The Olympics

Did you know architecture used to be an Olympic event?

06:06

Key Facts In This Video

  • 1

    Water motorsports involved motorboat drivers racing one another. (0:54)

  • 2

    Architectural design and town planning both used to be Olympic events. (2:59)

  • 3

    The sculpture competition category included three subgroups: statues, reliefs, and plaques and medals. (5:12)

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