The 2008 Olympic Games were the first to be held in China and there was no holding back on the pomp and splendor. The torch relay was the most international in Olympic history, as the flame travelled to every continent as well as the peak of Mount Everest. The awe-inspiring Opening Ceremony has been commonly called the most spectacular ever, featuring more than 15,000 performers. Canadian athletes won 19 medals, making it the country’s second-best non-boycotted summer Games ever behind the 22 won at Atlanta 1996.
Turin was a first ballot selection to host the 2006 Olympic Winter Games, the first time the Winter Games would be held in Italy in 50 years. For the seventh straight Winter Games, Canada improved upon its medal total, achieving another best ever with 24. This time, Canada also broke into the top three in the medal table, finishing behind only Germany (29) and the United States (25).
In 2004 the Olympic Games finally returned home to Greece. History was revisited as the shot put events were held in Olympia, site of the ancient Olympic Games. The archery events were staged in the Panathenaic Stadium that had been used for the 1896 Olympic Games. Both marathons began in the city that gave the event its name and followed the 1896 route, ending in the Panathenaic Stadium.
After losing a close vote for the 1998 Olympic Winter Games, Salt Lake City was the runaway winner for 2002. Canada once again set a national record for Winter Olympic medals with 17, including seven gold. One of the biggest stories of the Games was Canada’s return to ice hockey prominence as both the men’s and women’s teams won gold.
History will be made in 2016 when Rio de Janeiro, Brazil hosts the Games of the XXXI Olympiad, marking the first time that a South American country will welcome the world to an Olympic Games. It is also just the third time that the Games will be held in the southern hemisphere, following Melbourne 1956 and Sydney 2000.