- Participating nations: 13
- Number of athletes: 689 (681 men - 8 women)
- Time of year: July 1 - November 23
- Number of events: 89
That the United States would host the Olympic Games in 1904 had been decided for many years. In fact, the agreement had been reached as early as the time of the congress in 1894. It had also been decided that Chicago would be the host of these Games. The city had been the only candidate, and until 1902, all the preparations for the Games were made with that in mind. In 1909, when the IOC had its first meeting since 1897 (!), it was unanimously decided that the Games of 1904 should take place in Chicago.
One thing worth noting about this meeting is that Viktor Balck did not attend the meeting himself, but instead sent Lieutenant Fredrik Bergh, who lived in Paris, to represent him. But Balck was an IOC member, and, as we all know, an IOC member can only represent himself (or herself). That was, and still is, a very basic rule. But Balck didn´t see his IOC membership that way. He saw himself as a representative of the Central Organization, and thus saw no problem in sending a stand in.
St Louis was scheduled to arrange a World Fair in 1903. There were delays, and the World Fair was postponed until 1904. The city was also planning large sports competitions during the same time.
The people in Chicago knew that having two big sports competitions in the same year would cause problems, and suggested that the Games be put off until 1905.
Of course, Coubertin did not approve of this, and Chicago then decided to let the IOC decide where the Games should take place. At that point, the IOC chose St Louis, after they had been guaranteed that the Olympics and the World Fair would be kept completely separate.
Games with problemsBut the problems didn´t end here. First of all, there was little European participation in the Games. The trip was both long and expensive. On top of that, the controversy between Chicago and St Louis wasn´t over. As a result of it, most American universities refused to send any participants to St Louis. They were of the opinion that Chicago was the rightful Olympic Host City. There were very few foreign athletes in St Louis. Naturally, most of them were Canadian, only three European countries were represented at the Games.
Coubertin didn´t feel like going, and consequently wasn´t even present. Sweden didn´t send anyone either, Viktor Balck had made the Nordic Games the top priority.
The Olympics in St Louis were not a success and the future didn´t look too bright for the young and newly awakened Olympic movement.
But St Louis made one important contribution. These Games were the first to give gold, silver, and bronze medals to the top trio.