- Participating nations: 46
- Number of athletes: 3,014 (2,724 men - 290 women)
- Time of year: May 17-August 12
- Number of events: 126
It had since long been known that Amsterdam was going to get the Games in 1928. Coubertin had through his actions more or less decided on Amsterdam at around the same time he decided that the 1924 Games should go to Paris. But it should be mentioned that both Rome and Los Angeles were very interested in hosting the 1928 Games. But this didn´t mean that everything was settled. Within the conservative circles of the Dutch parliament, there was a lot of opposition towards the Games. They felt that there was no defense for irresponsibly spending one million guilders on arranging the Olympic Games when there were more important issues like housing and health care to deal with. The debate was harsh and there were many punches below the belt. The parliament finally took a vote on it, which the opponents of the Olympics won by 48-36.
After the vote, Coubertin sourly wrote that it was “.an outstanding record in pettiness".
The Olympic Games were obviously in grave danger. Without money it would be impossible to arrange the Games.
The Dutch press strongly criticized the decision. They felt that Holland´s international reputation was in jeopardy, and the people supported this press campaign.
The Dutch Olympic Committee got the message, and in May 1925 they published an appeal in which they asked the general public for help with raising funds for the arrangement of Olympic Games.
The response was huge. In two weeks they had collected more than 1.5 million guilders.
The Games were saved, but the problems didn´t end there. When it was time for the opening ceremony in Amsterdam on the 28th of July 1928 the world looked very different compared to what it had looked like three years earlier. The unemployment rate had risen dramatically. Hitler had made his entrance in Germany, and the nationalistic feelings were strong all over Europe.
Germany Goes for the GoldGermany was now allowed to participate again for the first time since the war.
Now that the Germans were making a comeback they decided to make it a big one. The athletes were put under hard demands, which included staying away from alcohol and tobacco, showing considerable restraint when it came to women, and following the doctors´ orders religiously!
46 nations were on location in Amsterdam, represented by a total of 3,014 athletes. 290 of these were women and Coubertin was still as critical as he always had been regarding their right to participate.
In his greeting message he writes:
“I´m still an opponent of women participating in the Olympic Games. Against my will, this has become permitted in an ever increasing number of events."
The organizers felt that the new technology was a threat, which led the to ban all foreign radio broadcasts. Their main concern was that if this type of broadcasting were allowed, the tourists would choose to stay at home! The Swedish Radio had sent Sven Jerring to Amsterdam, and he reported daily on the Swedish successes. But he was not allowed to do so live.
Coca-Cola sponsored the American team with 1000 crates of the soft drink, and ever since Coca-Cola has been involved in the Olympic movement.
It was now possible to buy souvenirs carrying the Olympic rings for the first time.
The Olympic Flame Makes Its DebutThis is also the first time the Olympic flame burns during the Summer Olympics.
The SOC had decided in 1927 that Sweden should be represented in fewer sports in Amsterdam than they had been earlier, but they should in turn be better prepared.
As usual, the SOC went on a reconnaissance trip, described in every detail in SOC protocols.
The most prominent man in football at this time was Anton Johanson. He was also appointed Chef de Mission for the team, but he was more famous for being the one who persuaded the Football Association to stay out of the Olympic tournament. The Football Association didn´t have enough money, there were 30,000 crowns missing. This led to an infected debate in the sports press, especially in the “Idrottsbladet" sports magazine.
Torsten Tegner at “Idrottsbladet" talked at length about Johanson´s betrayal, and the two men became enemies for life. Tegner sent 7,500 crowns to the SOC as a first installment, and promised to send the rest of the 30,000 crowns that were missing. But the same day the Football Association made the decision, the SOC sent back the money.
Already at this time, the SOC had so-called hearings with the different sports associations. The Athletics Association had their team ready as early as in May 1927. The Athletics Association wanted to send 25 men and six women. The 25 men were not a problem for the SOC working committee, but the question of whether or not to send the six women caused a real uproar. After many long discussions, the Athletics Associations were allowed to take the six women. Seven other Swedish women athletes accompanied them to Amsterdam.
The participation cost 351,906.8 crowns, which gave the SOC a surplus of 90,000 crowns. A common training outfit for the participants was included in the total cost. The SOC got the government´s permission to use the money for upcoming Olympics.
In a protocol from 1929 it is said that the SOC´s assets amounted to 102,901.46 crowns, which was considered to be enough to afford a phone for the SOC office.
Nine Gold Medals for Nurmi15 sports were on the program in Amsterdam. Tennis and shooting (!) had been removed. There were five different events in the art competition.
665,000 people paid the entrance fee to go see the competitions. The Swedish record after the Olympics was 25 medals, seven gold, six silver, and twelve bronze medals.
Two great Olympians made their final Summer Games appearance in Amsterdam. The now legendary Finnish runner, Paavo Nurmi, ended his Olympic career - involuntarily - by taking the gold in the 10,000 meters, the silver in the 5,000 meters and the 3,000 m steeplechase. That made him a nine-time gold medallist and a three-time silver medallist, and one of the greatest long-distance runners of all times.
In the swimming competitions, Arne Borg signed off by taking the gold in the 1,500 m freestyle and the bronze in the 400 m freestyle. Borg´s friend and competitor, Johnny Weismüller, took two gold medals.
Some of the strong Swedish sports at the time were wrestling, where Sweden took three gold medals in the heavyweight classes, and the javelin throw where Erik Lundqvist made a 66,60-meter throw and gave Sweden its only athletics gold. Two weeks after the Games, “Målarn" made a 71.01-meter throw, which made him the first man in the world to break the 70-meter barrier.
In Paavo Nurmi´s shadow, Edvin Wide managed to take the bronze medals in both the 10-kilometer and the 5-kilometer races.
Ruth Svedberg became the first Swedish woman to take a medal when she secured the discus bronze medal by throwing 39.92 meters in her last attempt.
Controversial Ladies´ DistanceOne more Swedish women´s medal came in the 800 meters when Inga Gentzel took the bronze. But the distance was controversial. Many of the contestants became so exerted that contemporary commentators felt that it all looked very unethical. All distances over 200 meters were then stricken from the women´s program, and it took 32 years for the people of the Olympic movement to change their minds.
As usual, Sweden was very successful in the modern pentathlon. This time, the gold and silver medals went to Sven Thofelt and Bo Lindman. The German successes in this event are certainly worth noting. The Germans had three contestants among the top eight - just like Sweden.
The proud Swedish equestrian traditions were defended with one silver and two bronze medals.