- Participating nations: 37
- Number of athletes: 1,408 (1,281 men - 127 women)
- Time of year: July 30 - August 14
- Number of events: 117
Los Angeles put in a bid for the Games as early as 1920. The city didn´t get the Games in 1924, but the campaign general still made a very profound impression on the members of the IOC, so much so that he was elected into the IOC in 1922. At the same time, Los Angeles was offered to host the Games in 1932. But much had changed in the ten years leading up to the Games in Los Angeles. The happy 20´s were over. The New York Stock Exchange on Wall Street had collapsed, an event that rocked not only the American economy, but also the economy of the whole world. 13 million people were unemployed in the United States - 25% of the working population. In Germany the inflation was skyrocketing and the Nazis were becoming louder. In England, three million people were unemployed, the French economy was in terrible shape, the Japanese export was running on empty and back in the United States people around the country were demonstrating against the waste of having the Olympic Games.
The Olympics Were a Great SuccessThe conditions for successful Games in 1932 were not the best.
But the 10th Olympic Games were eventually a huge success. 1,247,580 people paid to see the Games, which made a profit of one million dollars.
As usual, the Swedish Olympic Committee (SOC) made careful preparations. In 1931, the SOC secretary Tor Wibom made a trip to both Los Angeles and Lake Placid, which was the location of the 1932 Winter Games. His report is full of details, just as it had been in previous years, and nothing was left to chance. Let it also be noted that the hotel Wibom booked for the Swedish Winter team was the same hotel that was booked 48 years later when Lake Placid hosted the Winter Games for the second time!
As we´ve mentioned earlier, there was a surplus from previous Games in the SOC budget. As a result, the government only issued a grant in the amount of 100,000 crowns. The SOC had asked for 312,500 crowns. The SOC wrote a letter directly to the government in which they asked for more money, which was needed to cover new expenses. The shooting, which had reappeared on the Olympic program, was one of these expenses. But the government was not prepared to go that far, the SOC had to settle for an additional 65,000. It should also be known that the SOC in 1930 had received more than 300,000 crowns from lottery earnings to pay for the Swedish participation in the Summer Games in Los Angeles and the Winter Games in Lake Placid. But the SOC still felt that more money was needed to fully cover both Games.
The SOC working committee was discussing the Olympic program as early as in1929. It was then suggested that every nation should only be allowed to have three contestants in each event, in boxing and wrestling only one contestant in each weight class should be permitted. The SOC were also categorically against all types of team sports. Another, quite remarkable, decision was to suggest that “women not be allowed to take part in the Olympic Games." The IOC member J. Sigfrid Edström made a reservation against this.
Fortunately, that last decision didn´t have an impact on the IOC.
The Lure of the Free Olympic Village37 countries and 1400 athletes went to the Olympics in Los Angeles. Sweden sent 51 athletes and additional team officials. They each received special equipment worth 267.40 crowns. It included things like a pair of golf pants, a blazer, a detachable collar, a blue and yellow scarf and three pairs of pajamas. The SOC also decided to purchase a straw hat for all the team members on location in Los Angeles, which, they assumed, would be cheaper than buying them at the “PUB" department store in Stockholm where they had bought the rest of the equipment.The organizers feared that the participation would be low due the state the world was in. But in 1930, Garland, who was head of the organizing committee, suggested to the IOC that for two dollars per day and participant it would be possible to offer food, living arrangements, local transportation and entertainment to the athletes of the world. This was not the first time there was an Olympic village in the picture. Back in 1924 in Paris, there had been living arrangements that were similar to an Olympic village even though many athletes had chosen to live elsewhere.
The village in Los Angeles was better organized and became a tremendous success. People were so enthusiastic about it that after the Games, the IOC recommended that future organizers of Olympic Games continue the tradition.
The opening ceremony in the Los Angeles Coliseum on the 30th of July became a magnificent event, which attracted 105,000 enthusiastic spectators, and shattered most of the resistance towards the Games.
Sweden took a total of 24 medals. That number wouldn´t have been particularly high if it hadn´t been for the wrestling team.
The wrestling team, which included such legends as Ivar Johansson and Rudolf Svensson, took ten of the medals, six gold, one silver, and three bronze medals.
The Historical Ivar JohanssonIvar Johansson is worth a few extra lines. His performance in Los Angeles has gone down in history. This is how the story goes:
In 1931, Ivar won the European Championship gold medal in the Graeco-Roman middleweight class. But despite his gold medal, Ivar had to wrestle Axel Cadier in a Olympic qualifying match, which he lost. This meant that in the Olympics, Ivar had been placed in the welterweight class in the Graeco-Roman style, but was only allowed to enter the middleweight class in the freestyle.
In Los Angeles, the wrestling competitions started with the freestyle event, which Ivar won despite having lost his first match. After the final against the American Hess, Ivar went straight to the sauna. That was because he had to wrestle his first match in the Graeco-Roman welterweight tournament the next day.
At ten o´clock the day after his gold-winning final, it was time for the weighing in. It turned out that Ivar had been able to lose the necessary seven kilograms (16 lbs.)! Ivar was the first wrestler to win two gold medals during the same Olympic Games and later received the “Bragdguldet" award, which is an award handed out by one of Sweden´s largest newspapers.
Losing that much weight in only a few hours before going in to produce a great athletic performance, in a sport as demanding as wrestling, is probably not something anyone would recommend for today´s athletes. But Ivar did what was, and still is, considered to be more or less impossible.
The Favorite SportThe Swedish favorite sport at the time - modern pentathlon - lived up to the high expectations, as usual. The gold medal went to Johan Gabriel Oxenstierna and the silver medal went to Bo Lidman.
There wasn´t a Swedish top trio this time since the gold medallist from Amsterdam, Sven Thofelt, missed the bronze by half a point.
Modern pentathlon made its debut in 1912, and had taken every medal since, except from the bronze medals in 1928 and 1932. Talk about domination!
The track and field competitions produced only one Swedish medal, which was the triple jump silver medal. It went to Eric Svensson for his 15.32-meter jump.
The king of the sprint events was American Eddie Tolan who broke the world record on the 100 meters and the Olympic record on the 200 meters. Despite these achievements, he didn´t make the gold-winning 4x100-meter relay team.
Stanislawa Walasiewicz from Poland won the ladies´ 100 meters by running the distance in 11.9 seconds. Her story is a bit odd. She came to the United States at the age of two and was just in the process of becoming an American citizen before the Games. But she tore up her papers and decided to run for Poland. After the Games in Los Angeles, she became best known as Stella Walsh and won as many as 35 American Championships until 1951. She was shot during an armed robbery in Cleveland in 1980, and during the autopsy it was revealed that she was really a man!
Nurmi Had Become a ProfessionalThe king of long-distance running, Paavo Nurmi, who had won nine individual gold and three silver medals, was never given the chance to compete in Los Angeles. The International Amateur Athletics Federation (IAAF) had declared him a non-amateur not long before the Games in Los Angeles. But Finland was able to manage without him. Their most successful event was the men´s javelin throw in which they took all the medals. The javelin throw has continued to be a Finnish specialty.
The Olympic Games were, as we´ve mentioned earlier, a huge success. These Games represented, according to many people, the birth of élitist sport. Despite the bad times, lots of money had been spent on the Olympic Games, but this also meant that many people came to see the Games. The arrangement made a profit, and it took until 1984, when the Games returned to Los Angeles, before that feat was repeated.