06/03/2012 05:06 GMT

London 2012 Olympic Handshake Ban: A History Of Shaking Controversy (VIDEO)

Advice warning germ-conscious Olympic athletes to avoid shaking hands during the London 2012 games would be endorsed by US business tycoon Donald Trump, who regards the greeting as "barbaric" and fears catching infection as a result.

Trump once famously distributed bottles of hand sanitiser to reporters, also described hand-shaking as "one of the curses of American society" which could lead to catching all sorts of infections.

He did concede that, if he had decided to run in the presidential elections, he would have had to shake hands. But he did not specify whether that would include teachers whom, he vowed, he would never touch "because they have 17,000 germs per square inch on their desks".

In 2004 it is claimed that an election in Australia was won and lost by a single handshake.

The incumbent prime minister, John Howard, was going through a period of great unpopularity and was expected to lose. A few days before polling, he met his opponent, Mark Latham, in a radio studio. Mr Latham shook Mr Howard's hand in a very aggressive manner, pulling him close and staring him down.

Footage of the handshake spread like wildfire and Mr Latham was seen as a bully. He lost the election in a landslide and the opinion polls showed that it was that handshake which cost him the election.

One commentator said: "That is how you should shake hands if you want to lose an election."

Much has been written on the different types of handshake, with many of the greetings given a imaginative name, such as the "Teacup" which is where the hand is cupped to avoid palm to palm contact with the recipient.

Twelve different types of handshake have been identified in The Power Of Handshaking, a book by Robert E Brown and Dorothea Johnson. These include 'The Waterpump', where "the other person pumps your hand as if he or she is drawing water from the well.The initial good feeling disappears after the fourth or fifth pump."

Former US president John F Kennedy commissioned an entire survey on shaking hands, to ensure that he got it just right - firm, but not aggressive, friendly but not weak - when greeting other world leaders.