Our modern Olympics may not be quite as quirky as the ancient Olympic Games — athletes won’t be competing naked, 100 oxen won't be sacrificed to Zeus, and unmarried virgins won't be the only females allowed to attend. But even so, there is no shortage of amusing facts about this summer’s biggest sporting event.
1. From sewers to cycling: The Great Stink of 1858 — the summer when the stench of untreated human waste in the Thames nearly incapacitated London — inspired Parliament to support the construction of the northern outfall sewer, where the Olympic Park Greenway footpath and cycleway are now situated.
2. Monster spotting: British-based gambling company Ladbrokes is taking bets on Nessie, offering odds of 2012-1 for the famous Loch Ness monster to be seen in the Thames during the Games.
3. Must love frogs: About 4,000 newts and hundreds of toads were removed by hand and relocated during construction of the Olympic Park.
4. For the birds: The London Olympic site has more than 525 birdhouses, 150 bat boxes and numerous otter holts to help maintain the local wildlife as part of the Games’ focus on producing an eco-friendly event.
5. Trash talk: Organizers are aiming for a zero-waste Games. All packaging will be color-coded to match color-coded trash bins. Most food packaging, coffee cups and disposable knives and forks will be composted. Plastic bottles will be recycled into new bottles within just six weeks, and the small remainder of non-recyclable items will be taken away and used to generate electricity.
6. On the fly: A special terminal has been built at Heathrow Airport for athletes heading home after the Games. It has 31 check-in desks and seven security lanes.
7. How'd they do that? The Olympic Stadium will have a capacity of 80,000 during the Games — yet it is the lightest Olympic stadium ever built.
8. Mobile homes: After the Games, four arenas will be dismantled and relocated within the U.K., along with the water polo and training swimming pools. The village will be converted into 3,600 apartments, and most of them will be offered as affordable housing.
9. McDonald's McMansion: McDonald’s is opening its largest restaurant ever at the Games; the 32,000-square foot venue will seat 1,500 customers on two floors, and will be served by 500 employees. There will be three other McDonald’s operating during the Games, and all will be deconstructed after six weeks, with most of the furniture and equipment to be recycled or reused in other restaurants.
10. Bare bottoms to be slapped ... with fines: Streaking at the Games will be punishable by law. Anyone caught running sans pants will be fined up to £20,000. The penalties have been put in place not due to prim British nature, but to deter streakers from flashing bodypainted ads in a crackdown on ambush marketing.
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