1924 Olympic Games – Paris

Date Held: May 4 – July 27, 1924
Number of Countries: 44
Number of Athletes: 3,089
Number of Events: 126

The 1924 Summer Olympic Games in Paris were the final Olympics held under the IOC Presidency of Pierre de Coubertin, Germany was again not invited as bitter memories of WWI still existed. This was also the first Olympics attended by a Chinese delegation, although they did not compete in any events, but did participate in the Opening Ceremony. The 1924 Summer Olympics were quite popular with large crowds, though the Games still resulted in a net loss in terms of expenditures vs revenue.


Some highlights from the 1924 Olympics include:

  • Marathon distance reestablished at 26.2 miles based on the length of the race in London in 1908
  • American swimmer Johnny Weissmuller won three gold medals in swimming in the first use of the now standard length 50m Olympic length pool
  • The Olympic motto of “Citius, Altius, Fortius” (Faster, Higher, Stronger)  was used for the first time at an Olympics
  • The 1924 Paris Games were the first with an Athlete’s Village
  • The first Winter Olympics had been held from Jan 25 – Feb 4, 1924 in Chamonix, France, although they were not considered Olympics per se at the time.

Links to artifact pages for 1924 Paris Olympic Games:

Winner’s Medals | Participation Medal | Poster | Diploma | Badge

1924 Winter Olympic Games – Chamonix

Date Held: Jan 25 – Feb 4, 1924
Number of Countries: 16
Number of Athletes: 258
Number of Events: 16

The 1924 Olympic Winter Games were originally designated as a weeklong winter sports event organized by the French Olympic Committee. While some winter sports such as figure skating and hockey had been included in previous Olympics they were always detached from the main program because there was no ice, snow, etc during the time when the traditional events were held. The 1921 IOC convention decided to have a trial weeklong event in Chamonix, France at Mont-Blanc to evaluate the viability of an international competition for winter sports.

The 1924 Games featured unique circumstances such as athletes in Figure Skating and Ice Hockey defending their victories from Summer Olympics at a Winter Olympics.

Events included at the Chamonix Games include:

  • Bobsled
  • Curling
  • Figure Skating
  • Hockey
  • Military Patrol
  • Skiing (Cross-Country, and Jumping)
  • Speed Skating

The Games were deemed successful and at and IOC congress in 1925 it was decided that Winter Olympics would be held every four years, in the same year as Summer Olympics, but as a separate event, organized and hosted on its own.

Links to Artifact Pages:

Winner’s Medals | Participation Medal | Poster | Badge 

1920 Olympic Games – Antwerp

Date Held: Apr 20 – Sept 12, 1920
Number of Countries: 29
Number of Athletes: 2,626
Number of Events: 154

In 1916 the Olympic Games which were scheduled to be held in Berlin, Germany were cancelled as a result of the outbreak of

World War I (Berlin was later awarded games for 1936 which would be the last games before the second World War), the next games to be held would be in Antwerp, Belgium in 1920.  The 1920 Olympics had originally been awarded to Budapest, but because Hungary was allied with Germany during WWI the bid was taken and Antwerp was awarded the Games “for its suffering during WWI”

The United States won the most Gold medals and the most medals overall at the 1920 Games. Some other interesting facts about the 1920 Olympics:

  • The Organizing Committee for the 1920 Olympic Games went bankrupt and never produced an official report, without first hand access to the records archived in Brussels, it’s very difficult to find good information on these Olympics.
  • The 1920 Olympics were the first games where athletes took the Olympic Oath:
    In the name of all the competitors I promise that we shall take part in these Olympic Games, respecting and abiding by the rules which govern them, committing ourselves to a sport without doping and without drugs, in the true spirit of sportsmanship, for the glory of sport and the honor of our teams.”
  • The oldest Olympian to win a medal was Oscan Swahn of Sweden who won the 100 metre running deer double-shot event at the age of 72.
  • The 1920 Olympics were officially held in Belgium and the Netherlands because a sailing event was held in the Netherlands.

Links to artifact pages for 1920 Antwerp Olympics:

Winner’s Medals | Participation Medal | Poster | Diploma

1912 Olympic Games – Stockholm

Date Held: July 6 – July 22, 1912
Number of Countries: 28
Number of Athletes: 2,406
Number of Events: 102

The Olympic Games were awarded to Stockholm in 1909 after it was the only bid entered. The Games were held over the span of roughly three weeks with the exception of  a couple events that were held a month or so earlier. A few items of note about the 1912 Olympics:

They were the last Olympics to award solid gold medals
They were the first Olympics to hold the decathlon and pentathlon
Electronic timing was used for the first time
Boxing was not allowed by Sweden
Sweden won the most medals, the US won the most Gold Medals

The Swedish people were very excited to host the Olympics and a new stadium was built for the Olympics, and Swedish athletic associations served as organizing committees for individual sports. In addition to athletic competitions, Olympic art competitions were held for the first time in 1912 in events such as literature, sculpture, painting, architecture and music where only gold medals were awarded to first place finishers.

To learn more about the 1912 Stockholm Olympics and everything from events to logistics please visit the LA84 Foundation Website and check out the Official Report from the 1912 Games. They have the full text of the official report published by the organizers with great information and facts for anyone curious.

Below are some images from the report just to give you an idea:

Interior Panorama of the Stadium:

Stadium Plan with location of events:

Winning competitors in Gymnastics:

Winners in Women’s swimming events:

Links to artifact pages for 1912 Stockholm Olympics:

Winner’s Medals | Participation Medal | Poster | Diploma | Badge

1908 Olympic Games – London

Date Held: April 27 – October 31, 1908
Number of Countries: 22
Number of Athletes: 2,008
Number of Events: 110

The Olympic Games of 1908 were originally scheduled to be held in Rome, Italy but an eruption of Mt. Vesuvius forced the Italian government to divert money that was originally planned to build the venues for the Olympics to rebuild areas damaged by the eruption. With Rome unable to host the Games, London was quickly selected in its place since it had been second in the voting for the 1908 Games.

The British quickly built White City Stadium a venue with a capacity of 68,000 and a unique track which was 536 meters around instead of the standard 400 and there was a swimming and diving pool in the middle of the track. Most of the events of the 1908 London Olympics took place in the stadium which was constructed in only 10 months and  was considered something of a technological innovation in its day.

As the planning for London was undertaken so quickly (the eruption of Mt Vesuvius occurred in April of 1906) it was held alongside the Franco-British Exhibition and lasted over 6 months (the longest Olympics ever held). The 1908 Games were the first to use international judges (i.e. from countries other than the host) and standardized rules for sports. The 1908 Games is also famous because it established the standard distance for the marathon at 26.2 miles. ( Previously it had been run at 25 miles, but the race was started at Windsor Castle to make it 26 miles and then an extra bit was run so that the finish line would be in front of the King’s seat to make it 26.2 miles, the distance that has become standard today )

Links to artifact pages for 1908 London Olympics:

Winner’s Medals | Participation Medal | Poster | Diploma | Badge

1906 Intercalated Games – Athens

Date Held: April 22 – May 2, 1906
Number of Countries: 20
Number of Athletes: 903
Number of Events: 78

The 1906 Games were held in Athens 10 years after the first modern Olympics in 1896. At the time the games were held as an Olympic event and were sanctioned by the IOC. However, the IOC has since relegated these games to the status of “Intercalated Games” since they were the only of their kind to be held at a 2 year interval from a previous Olympics.

The fate of the 1906 Games is sad in that they are almost forgotten by everyone and the IOC would like to pretend they never existed it seems. However, these games were the most successful since the original Athens Olympics in 1896. They were not held in conjunction with any other larger events and were held over a short period instead of over a months long period like at the Paris or St. Louis World’s Fairs.

In addition to returning to a stand alone format and being held over a couple weeks these Games established protocols and traditions that previous Olympics had not pursued. Athletes at the 1906 Games were sponsored through National Olympic Committees instead of simply representing their countries by virtue. This move added more structure and organization to the Games and is still how the Olympics are organized today. The 1906 Games were the first to have an Opening Ceremony as a stand alone event where athletes marched in with their national teams under the countries’ flag. This was also the first games that included an Olympic village for athletes, and a separate closing ceremony.

The Games were held at the Panathinaiko Stadium just as the games in 1896 had been. France won the medal count with 40 followed by Greece with 35 and the US and Great Britain tied with 24.

In many ways the success of these Games followed by the next Games in London would cement the Olympic Movement with its own independent legitimacy. From these humble seeds the juggernaut that is the contemporary Olympics rose. Medals and awards were handed out at these Olympics, but are no longer recognized by the IOC as official Olympic  events which is sad because these competitors and organizers contributed as much to the Olympics as anyone and yet are left forgotten.

1904 Olympic Games – St. Louis

Date Held: July 1 – November 23, 1904
Number of Countries: 12
Number of Athletes: 651
Number of Events: 91

The 1904 St. Louis Olympics experienced many of the same circumstances that plagued the 1900 Paris Games, in that they were held at the same time as a World’s Fair. While in 1900 the Olympics were to coincide with the Exposition Universelle, the 1904 Olympics were actually awarded to Chicago. However, the organizers of the World’s Fair in St. Louis threatened to hold their own athletic competitions that would eclipse and probably halt the Olympic movement. In response, Baron de Coubertin yielded and moved the Olympics to St. Louis, hoping gain prestige and fame for the Olympics, rather than sticking with the original Chicago pick.

If Coubertin was disappointed in the 1900 Paris Olympics for the lack of attention to the Olympics, he would be sorely disappointed again in St. Louis. The World’s Fair remained the central focus of attention, while the Olympics were in many ways pushed to the side.

Aerial rendering of the St. Louis World’s Fair Site

However, there was a more concerted “marketing” effort in that athletic events were to be held every day of the World’s Fair and they were actually referred to as Olympic events, rather than Championships or other terms used in Paris. Again, there were many events held that are not considered to be part of the Olympics by the IOC, but were held alongside and in the spirit of the Olympics.

Tug of War competition


Sadly, the largest problem with the 1904 Olympics was a major lack of international participation. Of the 94 events acknowledged by the IOC, only 42 (less than half) actually had athletes from any country besides the US. Additionally, while the opening and closing ceremonies were in July and November, the majority of events were conducted during a weeklong period from Aug. 29 – Sept. 3 (Mon-Sat).


While the Olympic movement still had not managed to become the juggernaut we know it as not, it was learning with each event and although the future was uncertain then the hard work of organizing these events would be passed down and we can appreciate it today.

Links to artifact pages for 1904 St. Louis Olympics:

Winner’s Medals | Participation Medal | Poster | Diploma | Badge 

1900 Olympic Games – Paris

Date Held: May 14 – October 28, 1900
Number of Countries: 24
Number of Athletes: 997
Number of Events: 95

The 1900 Olympic Games were held as part of the World’s Fair and in many ways were not what we know and understand as Olympics now. As in the Athens games of 1896 there was no torch, and in many cases winners did not receive medals but were given cups, trophies, or even cash prizes for some professional events. In events where medals were awarded they were sometimes given to only one or two top finishers but in some events were given to as many as the top 5. The Paris games did not have any official opening or closing ceremonies and the experimentation in Paris included competitions in many events that occurred only in Paris and then were never again picked up. The distinction between the Olympic traditions we know now and the absence of them in Paris is a direct result of the fact that there was no single authority running the Games and they did not have a bevy of traditions to draw from.

While the IOC, led by Baron de Coubertin, was originally heading up the overall organization of the Games a political spat caused him to resign and cede control of all sporting events at the Exposition Universale to the Union des Sociétés Françaises de Sports Athlétiques (USFSA ) a move he would later quip about “I surrendered – and was incorrect in doing so”. The Comittee appointed by the USFSA created an entirely new schedule of events that caused many of the original participants to withdraw. The competitions sponsored by the new organizing committee were not called Olympics, but they are recognized by the IOC as an official Olympics.

Events held in Paris and recognized by the IOC as Olympic events include:
Archery – 6 official Olympic events in 3 disciplines with 2 distances each
Athletics – 23 events were held on a grassy, uneven field with trees
Basque pelota ( aka Jai Alai ) – this is the only time the sport was held in an Olympics
Cricket – only two teams competed and the sport never appeared at another Olympics
Croquet – this was the first event in which women competed in the Olympics
Cycling – two cycling events were contested a sprint and a 25km ride
Equestrian – three events in jumping, high jump and long jump
Fencing – seven events were held with disciplines in Épée, Foil, and Sabre
Football (soccer) – Only three teams competed in this inaugural event
Golf – A men’s and women’s event were held, America’s first female gold medalist won
Gymnastics –  Points were awarded for placing in each of 20 events to decide winners
Polo – Polo clubs competed instead of countries in this event
Rowing – Four events were held singles, pairs, fours, and eights
Rugby – only two matches were held France v Germany and France v England
Sailing – competitions were held in 7 weight classes based on size of the boat
Shooting – 9 events were held, 3 pistol, 1 trap shooting, 5 rifle
Swimming – 7 events were held including obstacle and underwater swimming
Tennis – tournaments for men’s and women’s singles and men’s and mixed doubles
Tug of war – a team of mixed Swedes and Danes defeated the French team
Water Polo – seven teams competed in a single elimination tournament


In addition to the official sports competitions recognized by the IOC today, there were hundreds of other events that are not considered Olympic events because they included professionals, were qualifying tournaments or were considered “demonstrations”. Some events also held include fishing, ballooning, kite flying, auto racing, and many others.

The Olympic medal was produced in many types from solid gold, gilt silver, solid silver, silvered bronze and solid bronze. The giving of medals was not uniform and as previously stated many events didn’t award medals, instead awarding other trophies. The IOC has gone back and retroactively awarded Gold, Silver, and Bronze medal status to finishers in first second or third places respectively to keep with our modern understanding of the award structure.


Overall the 1900 Olympics were not promoted or publicized very well and even many competitors did not know they were competing in an Olympics as such. While the Exposition Universelle was considered a success by many, the Olympics were viewed largely as a failure because of the organization and marketing. Coubertin himself said later “It’s a miracle that the Olympic Movement survived that celebration”

As we will see soon, it would be a problem that also affected the 1904 St. Louis Games.

Links to artifact pages for the 1900 Paris Olympics:

Winner’s Medals | No Participation Medals Issued | Poster | Diploma | Badge