This one’s messed up in a little bit of a different way, as in, “Man, somebody seriously messed up.” First, you know the pedigree of the Olympics, right? That whole thing about the Greek games, the gods of Mount Olympus, etc. That’s all fine and dandy.
Fast-forward to 1921 when the Olympic committee kicked off a design competition. They were looking for someone to design the image that would be on all the Olympic medals, and the winner was Giuseppe Cassioli. His image included the Greek Nike, and as the goddess of victory, that’s pretty appropriate. Less appropriate, maybe, was his inclusion of the Roman Colosseum. No one really seemed to notice that little bit of cultural confusion, and Insider says the design was used again and again on Olympic medals over the years.
The medals are regularly redesigned to sport new imagery, and everyone seemed willing to let bygones be bygones until 2000, when the Sydney Olympics unveiled its medal design. It was complete with what appeared to be the Roman Colosseum, and that’s when people started complaining. Officials tried dodging the proverbial bullet by saying the building on the medal wasn’t “the” Roman Colosseum, but “a” colosseum. People were not impressed, says The Irish Times, least of all the Greeks.