The Nude Olympics started in the early 1970s and became an unofficial school tradition for almost 30 years. The nationwide streaking craze of 1974 heightened interest in the Nude Olympics, though Princeton's tradition predated the fad.
By the 1980s, the tradition was well established: at midnight on the night of the first snowfall, participants ran around the courtyard of Holder Hall naked or sporting little more than hats, scarves and shoes. Most were male sophomores, and the "Olympic" activities ranged from jogging and running laps to calisthenics, including snowball throwing, pushups, jumping jacks and crew racing (in imaginary boats).
Over time, participation numbers climbed into the hundreds, and more women began to take part. With this growing popularity, however, came a rise in dangerous levels of alcohol consumption. In the 1990s, forays into town by drunk, naked students resulted in confrontations with police. In the January 1999 Nude Olympics, 10 students required medical attention for alcohol consumption and injuries. In April 1999, out of concern for student health and potential liability, the Board of Trustees voted to ban the event, enacting a one-year suspension for any future participants.