Summer Olympics

Olympic runners compete during the 10,000 meters race in Tokyo. In ancient times, running was likely used to push animals to exhaustion during hunting.

Five Ways Humans Evolved to Be Athletes

An archaeologist explores how our prowess in sport has deep roots in evolution

Will an American athlete from the Tokyo Games grab gold and become the next to be featured on the cover of Wheaties?

The Tokyo Olympics

How Wheaties Became the 'Breakfast of Champions'

Images of Olympians and other athletes on boxes helped the cereal maintain a competitive edge

Interest in gymnastics soared during the Cold War, when the Olympics emerged as a cultural battleground for Western and Eastern nations.

The Tokyo Olympics

A History of Gymnastics, From Ancient Greece to Tokyo 2020

The beloved Olympic sport has evolved drastically over the past 2,000 years

A mural in Munich's former Olympic Village features Otl Aicher's pictograms.

The Tokyo Olympics

This Graphic Artist's Olympic Pictograms Changed Urban Design Forever

Having lived through Germany's Nazi regime, Otl Aicher went on to pioneer democratic design

Team USA Stamps

Smithsonian Voices

The Science Behind a Faster, Higher, Stronger Team U.S.A.

The unsung heroes behind the Summer Olympics are the scientists and engineers whose inventions and innovations help athletes

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The Tokyo Olympics

The Tokyo Summer Olympics: Smithsonian's Guide to the Games

Prepare yourself for the Tokyo Olympics with this comprehensive guide to the history, science, arts and thrills of the worldwide celebration

The blanket toss is one of the many events that occur during the annual World Eskimo Indian Olympics in Fairbanks, Alaska.

The Tokyo Olympics

For 60 Years, Indigenous Alaskans Have Hosted Their Own Olympics

Athletes at the World Eskimo-Indian Olympics in Fairbanks test their mettle in events like the blanket toss, knuckle hop and ear pull

Babe Didrickson’s brash behavior along with her decorated athleticism (above: second from right in the 80-meter hurdle) challenged every imagined ideal for a woman athlete in the 1930s.

The Tokyo Olympics

Olympian Babe Didrikson Cleared the Same Hurdles Women Athletes Face Today

The star track and field athlete of the 1930s boisterously challenged gender expectations with her record-setting athleticism

Detail of medieval roll showing England's Henry VIII tilting at a joust in front of his first wife, Katherine of Aragon. In the West, chariot racing died out rather quickly, but beginning in the second half of the 11th century, knightly tournaments were the spectacle of medieval Europe.

The Tokyo Olympics

What the Medieval Olympics Looked Like

The Middle Ages didn't kill the Games, as international sporting competitions thrived with chariot races and jousts

Pure athletic prowess wasn’t really the point—the People’s Olympiad was about cultivating a spirit of equality, in direct contrast to Nazi ideals.

The Tokyo Olympics

The 'Protest' Olympics That Never Came to Be

A leftist response to the 1936 Games being held in Nazi Germany, the proposed competition was canceled by the Spanish Civil War

Yakumo Academy High School karate team members practice a kata. Competitors are judged on such things as strength/power, deportment and interpretation.

The Tokyo Olympics

The Centuries-Old Sport of Karate Finally Gets Its Due at the Olympics

With the games set for Japan, the martial art will at last debut at next month's competition

Tsökahovi "Louis" Tewanima became an Olympian while being forced to attend the Carlisle Indian Industrial School.

The Olympic Star Who Just Wanted to Go Home

Tsökahovi Tewanima held an American record in running for decades, but his training at the infamous Carlisle school kept him from his ancestral Hopi lands

The new plan creates more space for pedestrians and trees.

Paris' Champs-Élysées to Be Transformed Into an 'Extraordinary Garden'

The French avenue's "green makeover" won’t be finished until after the city's 2024 Summer Olympics

Two-time medalist Rafer Johnson donated the metal torch he used to light the Olympic Flame at the Los Angeles games in 1984 to the National Museum for African American of History and Culture.

Breaking Ground

Olympic Decathlon Medalist Rafer Johnson Dies at 86

He was the first African American athlete to light the cauldron that burns during the Games

This Bahne skateboard, now part of the National Museum of American History’s collection, was given to a 9-year-old Tony Hawk by his older brother Steve in 1977. It was the first board the future legendary pro skateboarder learned how to ride.

What Tony Hawk's First Skateboard Shows About the History of the Sport He Made Famous

The legend has done the impossible again by bringing skateboarding into the mainstream

The Games will now take place in the summer of 2021.

Covid-19

Amid a Pandemic, Olympic Committee Postpones Summer Games Until 2021

Delaying the Games for a year is considered by many to be the best course of action for public health

Éva Székely won a gold medal at the 1952 Summer Olympics.

Éva Székely, Holocaust Survivor and Olympic Champion Swimmer, Dies at 92

In the wake of the war, she did not attempt to hide her identity. "Unequivocally," she said, "I was a Jew"

The military latched on to the trampoline as a training device for pilots, to allow them to learn how to reorient themselves to their surroundings after difficult air maneuvers.

How the Trampoline Came to Be

Inspired by circus performers, George Nissen created the bouncing ‘tumbling device’ that still captures imaginations 75 years later

Following the news of the death of basketball legend Kobe Bryant, this 2007 portrait by Rick Chapman is now on view at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery.

Trending Today

Smithsonian Historians Reflect on Kobe Bryant's Legacy as His Portrait Goes on View

A 2007 photograph of the N.B.A. All-Star offers visitors a chance to pay their respects

Pierre de Coubertin first publicly proposed reviving the Olympic Games in 1892.

Speech That Inspired the Modern Olympics Is Now the Most Expensive Sports Memorabilia Ever Sold

An anonymous buyer purchased the manuscript, penned by French aristocrat Pierre de Coubertin in 1892, for $8.8 million

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