- Participating nations: 22
- Number of athletes: 900
- Time of year: April 22 - May 2
Greece had already in 1896 suggested that the Games always take place in Athens, but their request was ignored since Coubertin felt that the Games should be spread over the world. But he and the IOC agreed to a compromise that meant that Athens could arrange their own series of Olympic Games between the regular Games. The thought behind this was to strengthen the Olympic spirit. There wasn´t enough time to arrange anything for 1902, but 1906 seemed perfect since it was also the ten-year anniversary of the first modern Olympics.
The IOC should perhaps be grateful for the 1906 Games; the Olympic Spirit had been bruised after the failed Games in Paris and St Louis.
But these were not real Olympic Games according to Coubertin, which partly explain his absence in Athens. Instead he arranged his own congress, “The Sports And the Fine Arts", which took place at the same time.
32 Participating SwedesSweden sent a team consisting of 32 men. All athletes had to pay 100 crowns out of their own pockets. The rest of the money needed to pay for the trip and the room and board came from various contributions.
But the economy was not the only problem for the Swedish team. Because most of the athletes and leaders were either teachers and students at the Central Institute of Gymnastics or military personnel, they had problems getting a leave of absence for the time period in question (April 22 - May 2). It wasn´t until the future King Gustav V and his son Prince Gustaf Adolf (later King Gustaf VI Adolf) got involved that the Athens travelers got the time off.
Sweden would now compete in gymnastics for the first time, up until this point the gymnastics team had only taken part in exhibitions. But this time the competition unexpectedly turned into an exhibition for the Swedes. This cam about when some of the nations wanted to add an element, which took into account the relative difficulty of the different movements, to the total score. Sweden and Greece, who at the time had strong ties to each other within the gymnastics field, were strongly opposed to the new rule, and suggested two different competitions instead. One competition with the new rule, and one competition without it. But Sweden and Greece would be the only contestants in the latter category, and then the Swedes felt that it would be “less than chivalrous to compete against their own disciples".
Sweden´s International BreakthroughDespite the fact that Sweden preferred to withdraw from the gymnastics competition due to differences of opinion, this was still the place where the Swedes got their international breakthrough.
This breakthrough came primarily in track and field where Sweden became the second best nation after the United States. Sweden took three gold medals, three silver medals, and six bronze medals in track and field.
Eric Lemming completed his second Olympic Games at the age of 26, and was able to return home with a javelin throw gold medal, a shot put bronze medal, and a couple of medals in other events.
Lemming´s world record breaking throw (53.90 m) in the javelin competition was also preceded by a discussion regarding how to interpret the rules. The question was whether or not to allow the “free grip", the term for holding the back of the javelin. The Swedes insisted that the free grip was dangerous since it made it difficult to control the direction of the javelin. Finally, the free grip was allowed, which caused a few dangerous incidents during the competition. The javelins would sometimes land on the track while people were running on it. Fortunately, no one was hit.
Lemming also entered the ancient pentathlon (standing long jump, discus, javelin, running 192 meters, and wrestling). Up until the last event, wrestling, there were six men left in the competition and Lemming had to wrestle Hjalmar Mellander. Mellander had to win this match to get the gold, and Lemming didn´t seem too interested in defeating his friend. So, Mellander won the gold, and Lemming got the bronze.
The Swedish successes in Athens attracted a lot of attention in Sweden, and upon their return to home, they were greeted with massive celebrations in the old Sports Park by the Swedish Crown Prince and around 6,000 spectators.
This was an “Olympic interlude", an isolated event that was never repeated. This was mostly due to the political problems in Greece and the rest of the world before the Games in 1910 and 1914, which never took place. After World War I, the Greeks abandoned all plans of hosting their own Olympic Games.