- Participating nations: 44
- Number of athletes: 3,092 (2,956 men - 136 women)
- Time of year: May 4 - July 27
- Number of events: 126
Paris became the first city to be trusted with arranging the Games a second time. The city was now going to make up for the failed Games in 1900. Coubertin was particularly anxious to wash the fiasco mark off of the “capital of the world". That Paris was ever allowed to arrange the Games had a lot to do with Coubertin´s manipulating his colleagues in the IOC. Initially, there were fourteen cities that had expressed an interest in hosting the Olympic Games in 1924. But in 1920, the decision was postponed until 1921.
Before the meeting in 1921, Coubertin wrote a letter to the IOC members to notify them of his resignation and to mention how appropriate it would be, at this point, to have Paris host the Games. Paris was, after all, the hometown of the man responsible for the modernization of the Olympic movement.
Coubertin later admitted that influencing the members of the IOC like that was in some ways similar to a coup d´état.
Dynamic PeriodThe 1920´s were a dynamic period. The United States poured billions into rebuilding a European continent, which had been damaged by the war. The automobile made its entrance. So did the radio, which gave the Games and the sports a different kind of exposure compared to what had been the case in previous Olympic Games.
The French government and the city of Paris came up with 30 million francs to modernize the fifteen-year-old stadium “Stade de Colombes", and now added “Olympique" to its name.
Of the 3,092 athletes from 44 different countries, 136 were women despite Coubertin´s resistance.
Germany was still banned from the Games. The war continued to cast its shadow on both sports and politics. This policy can be explained by the fact that it was decided on in 1919, only one year after the end of the war.
The attitude of the Swedish Olympic Committee (SOC) had become one of moderation in the time period leading up to the Games in Paris. They felt that a team of 228 people was appropriate. The cost would be an estimated 49.85 crowns per person and day, a total of 336,000. No less than 70,000 of this money went to the riding events where they were mainly needed to cover transportation expenses.
A Car for the DoctorThe members of the SOC management were given 35 crowns a day for their expenses. It´s impossible to know from just reading the SOC protocols whether or not the athletes got any money, but it´s unthinkable that they would have received any form of salary. That would obviously have violated the amateur rules.
The common equipment, paid for by the SOC, was not what it is today. The team members got a hatband with a Swedish flag on it, flags to put on their chests, and an official Paris 1924 silver pin.
After many long discussions, the SOC finally gave the doctor permission to “.use an automobile while on duty, but in order to prevent the expenses from soaring they shall be reviewed every three days."
The SOC was in better control of the financial situation this time, which became obvious when it was time to review the costs after the Games. The SOC had almost 100,000 crowns to spare compared to the original budget. The SOC got the government´s permission to keep the extra money and put them to use in the next Olympic Games.
Well, on to the actual competitions. The Games in Paris were no different from the previous Olympic Games in that the time in which the competitions took place was very drawn out. There were Olympic events in May, June and July, but the Games officially took place between July 5-27. 17 sports, and art was on the program this time. The ladies competed in fencing, tennis and swimming for the first time.
Fewer MedalsThe hardening competition in the world led to the number of Swedish medals being cut in half compared to the Games in Antwerp four years earlier. The Paris Games resulted in four gold, 13 silver, and twelve bronze medals.
When the total number of points were added, Sweden took fifth place among the 44 countries.
The Swedish dominance in modern pentathlon continued even if it was limited to “only" the top three places with Bo Lindman as the gold medallist.
Ernst Linder took the gold in dressage and Calle Westergren won the light heavyweight Graeco-Roman wrestling competition. The fourth gold medal came from the Swedish horse jumping team.
But many of the most popular Swedish athletes at that time achieved good results even though they didn´t win any gold medals.
Arne Borg could leave Paris with silver medals in the 400 and 1,500 m freestyle, bronze in the 4x200 m relay and fourth place in the 100 m freestyle. Borg made his debut in Antwerp without winning any medals, but now at age 23 he was ready to take on his opponents from around the world.
Borg was up against one of the Games´ most talked about athletes, American Johnny Weismüller. The American won three gold medals and received more gold in a different form when he in 1931 signed a Hollywood contract for 21 Tarzan movies.
In athletics we encounter yet another well-known name - Edvin Wide - who took the silver in the 10,000-meter race and the bronze in the 5,000-meter race.
In the football, Sweden took the bronze and names like Sigge Lindberg, Putte Kock, Pära Kaufeldt, Sven Rydell and many others became forever a part of history.
French Heat WaveParis was struck by a heat wave, which naturally affected primarily the track and field and the running events. That should be kept in mind when looking at the achievement of the “king" of the Games. Finland´s Paavo Nurmi had already conquered the world during the Games in Antwerp, and he came to Paris as the center of attention and was everybody´s best bet in all the events he entered.
Nurmi left Paris with three individual gold medals, and another two in team events. His countryman Ville Ritola wasn´t far behind with two individual gold and two silver medals. He too won two gold medals in the team events.
The world was in awe - how could that little country in the north produce such “superhuman" athletes. When Nurmi won his gold in the more than ten-kilometer cross-country run, only 15 out of the original 38 could reach the finish line because of the intense heat. Four of the Swedes were so exhausted they had to be taken to the hospital, and some were so tired during the last short distance that they were unable to finish the race. But Nurmi was more or less unaffected by the heat.
A few episodes from Paris worth mentioning include the cycling pursuit race, which was 188 kilometers long. This really begs the question of whether all the athletes were competing under the same conditions.
French Professional Bicyclist?The French Armand Blanchonnets had cycled the demanding course every day for three months. With that kind of advantage there was no doubt about who would take the gold. Blanchonnets won by a ten-minute margin. One may wonder today if maybe he should have been disqualified. His preparations were hardly in accordance with the strict amateur rules of the time.
Tennis was on the program for the last time and didn´t return until 1988 in Seoul. The two biggest tennis stars of the time didn´t participate in the tournament. American Bill Tilden chose not to make the long trip to Paris, and French tennis heroine Suzanne Lenglen was not able to defend her title from Antwerp because she was overstrained.
674,000 paying spectators could see the Games in Paris. Another piece of interesting information was that there was an Olympic village for the first time, and it was greatly appreciated by team officials and athletes alike. But the idea of the Olympic village had not come to stay. It wasn´t until 1932 that the Olympic family once again had an Olympic village to call home.
1924 was also the year of the first Winter Olympics, but that´s not what it was called. Instead it went by the name “International Sports Week".