Why Nobody Uses The Olympic Salute Anymore
In the Olympic salute, which remains the official one to this day, the right arm should be held straight, pointing in an upward angle slightly to the side. By comparison, in the Nazi salute, the right arm should be held straight, pointing in an upward angle in front of the body. Understandably, when these two salutes are used at the same event, as they were at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, confusion ensues. At those opening ceremonies, spectators couldn't tell whether the non-German teams were using the official Olympic salute to commemorate the Games or if they were "heiling Hitler" to support Nazi Germany. But it wasn't just those watching who were confused. As Frederick T. Birchall wrote in the New York Times, "Some teams apparently did not know the difference between the Olympic and Nazi salutes and rendered mixed homage. The Nazi salute was given by Afghanistan, Bermuda, Bolivia and Iceland, besides, of course, Italy which originated it, and the Germans." The two salutes, along with the Bellamy salute once used to salute the American flag, may owe their similarity to the Ancient Romans, who are said to have used a similar pose in their military salutes. Hear more strange things about the Olympics below.