The Olympic Games take place every four years, but they’re staggered so that the winter and summer competitions are held two years apart. Thousands of athletes compete to bring home medals for their respective countries, and the competition is an entertaining mixture of national pride and old rivalries.
Since most of the nations on the planet take place, you can count on Olympics betting to have a significant level of popularity every two years. As much as fans love to wager on their home country, they also enjoy betting on rival neighbors to put on a poor showing. When it comes to gambling on sports, the only event with more emotion tied up in the wagers is the World Cup.
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2016 Summer Olympics
In 2009, the International Olympic Committee announced Rio de Janeiro as the host of the 2016 Summer Olympics. Beating out the likes of Tokyo and Chicago, Rio becomes the first-ever South American city to host the event.
The opening ceremony is scheduled for August 5th, while the closing ceremony takes place on August 21st. More than 10,000 athletes are expected to participate, with a total of 206 nations being represented.
South Sudan and Kosovo are competing for the first time, marking a milestone in the history of both nations. The games will also see the addition of golf and rugby sevens to the total of 28 sports being contested.
I’m excited about the men’s basketball competition, as the United States is sending their latest edition of the Dream Team along with Duke University head coach Mike Krzyzewski. Some of the marquee names include Stephen Curry, LeBron James, and James Harden, but the roster is loaded with current NBA stars. They’re definitely the favorites to win, and one online sportsbook is currently giving them 1/14 odds for a gold medal.
If you’re looking for a profitable underdog in men’s basketball, you might consider the Spanish national team. They took home a silver in the 2012 Olympics, and they’re coming off a 2015 win in the FIBA Eurobasket tournament. The presence of Chicago Bulls center and six-time All-Star Pau Gasol makes them a force to be reckoned with, and teammates Rudy Fernandez and Sergio Rodriguez also have experience with several NBA squads. They’re currently being given 10/1 odds to win the gold.
For those readers who’ve never experienced the thrill of betting on the Olympics, here are a few interesting facts to get you excited about the upcoming competition:
- Two of the countries that rank in the top 10 for winning medals no longer exist. These include East Germany and the Soviet Union.
- The first Olympic Games took place in Greece in 776 BC, and it was part of a festival meant to honor Zeus, the king of the Greek gods.
- The oldest participant in the Summer Olympics was Oscar Swahn of Sweden. He competed in 1908, 1912, and 1920. He won gold in 1912 at the age of 64 and silver in 1920 at the age of 72.
- The original Olympic games were held until 393 AD, when Emperor Theodosius of Rome banned them for the celebration of pagan gods.
- First flown in 1920 and created by Pierre de Coubertin, the Olympic flag features five interconnected rings on a white background. Each of these rings represents a continent, and their connection symbolizes the international friendship promoted by the Olympics.
- If an athlete finishes outside the top three in an event, they receive a paper diploma for participation instead of a medal.
- The United States leads all nations in the number of medals won during the Olympic Games. The current total is 2,681, with 1,072 gold, 859 silver, and 750 bronze.
- The only person to win medals in three different sports during a single Olympic Games was Frank Kugler. Representing the United States in 1904, Kugler won a silver in freestyle wrestling, two bronze in weightlifting, and a bronze in the tug of war.
- The ancient Olympics started as a series of foot races, with men competing in the nude. Women weren’t allowed to participate, and married females were barred from attending.
- Michael Phelps of the United States is the Olympic athlete with the most medals. From 2004 to 2012, he won 18 gold, two silver, and two bronze.
The Olympics in 2016 feature 28 different sports, and you can count on sportsbooks to offer odds on all of them. Events like men’s basketball should be easy for bettors to research, while the women’s long jump and men’s 50 km walk should prove far more challenging.
Here are some of the most common wagering option you can expect to find:
- Futures – These are wagers decided in the future, often months in advance. A current example allows bettors to predict which nation will win the most gold medals at the upcoming summer Olympics. Options for silver and bronze medals should also be available.
- Outright Winner – This option exists for the men’s and women’s version of all 28 sports in the Summer Olympics. In order to get paid, just pick the outright winner of an event.
- Prop Bets – This form of wager deals with something other than the outright winner of a single event. I’ve seen one wager offering 4/6 odds on Usain Bolt winning both the 100 and 200 meter gold, and there are sure to be over/under wagers on the number of medals won by various athletes or nations. You can also expect some unconventional options such as the length of the opening ceremonies and how many world records are broken.