1908 Summer Olympics

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Games of the IV Olympiad

Host city London, England
Nations participating 22
Athletes participating 2,008
(1,971 men, 37 women,)
Events 110 in 22 sports
Opening ceremony 13 July 1908
Closing ceremony October 31, 1908
Officially opened by Edward VII
Stadium White City Stadium

The 1908 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the IV Olympiad, were held in 1908 in London, England. These games were originally scheduled to be held in Rome. At the time they were the fifth modern Olympic games, following on from the Athens Games of 1906. However, these have since been retroactively downgraded by the International Olympic Committee and thus the 1908 Games are seen as the start of the Fourth Olympiad, in keeping with the now-accepted four-year cycle. The IOC President for this games was Baron Pierre de Coubertin.

Italian authorities were preparing infrastructure for the games when Mount Vesuvius erupted on April 7, 1906, devastating the nearby city of Naples. Funds that were to have gone to the Olympics were diverted to the reconstruction of Naples, so a new venue was required. London was selected, and the games were held in White City alongside the Franco-British Exhibition, which at the time was the more noteworthy event. Berlin and Milan were the other candidates.

The White City Stadium, built in very short time especially for the games, held 68,000 people and was considered by some to be a technological marvel for the time. The distance from the start of the Marathon to the finish at the stadium was established at this games; 42.195 km (26 miles 385 yards). The starting line was moved to allow the Royal Family a good view.

The games were surrounded by controversy. On opening day, following the practice introduced at the Intercalated Games of 1906, the teams paraded behind their national flags. However, the arrangement caused several complications:

  • The Finnish team were expected to march under the Russian flag rather than the Finnish flag, so chose to march without a flag at all.
  • Irish athletes were compelled to compete for the British team, so many of them withdrew.
  • The Swedish flag had not been displayed above the stadium, so the members of the Swedish team decided not to take part in the ceremony.
  • The United States flag had also not been displayed above the stadium before the opening so the United States' flag bearer refused to dip the flag to the royal box. Though the flag was later dipped in the collective greeting of the royal family, Martin Sheridan, American team captain, gave the explanation that "This flag dips to no earthly king."<ref>London Olympics 1908 & 1948</ref> Despite international customs that encourage dipping the flag as a sign of respect to heads of state, since 1908 US flag bearers have followed a tradition of not doing so.

The 1908 Olympics also prompted the establishment of standard rules for sports, and the selection of judges from different countries, rather than just the host. One of the reasons for this was the 400 metre run in which the US winner was accused of interfering with the British runner. Part of the problem was the different definition of interference under British and US rules. The race was re-run, but the Americans refused to participate. The British runner, Wyndham Halswelle, won by running around the track on his own because three of the four original runners had been American.

Image:Dorando Pietri.jpg
Dorando Pietri finishes the marathon.

The most famous incident of the games came at the end of the marathon. It occurred when the first runner to enter the stadium, Dorando Pietri of Italy, collapsed several times and ran the wrong way. Not far from the finish-line, two of the officials took him by the arms, and brought him to the line. As a consequence, after crossing the line he was disqualified. The medal went to American Johnny Hayes who was second over the line, but the glory went to Pietri. Since he himself had not been responsible for his disqualification Queen Alexandra the next day awarded him a gold cup in recognition of his achievement.

These Games were the first to include Winter events, such as had originally been proposed for the Games. There were four figure skating events contested. However, the on-ice events occurred months separated from most of the other events.

For the first time the Olympic creed saying that "the most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part" was publicly proclaimed, and its creator, a bishop from Pennsylvania, uttered it at a mass held at St. Paul's Cathedral on July 19..

Oscar Swahn from Sweden, who won the running deer shooting gold, became the oldest Olympic champion of all time, and he pushed the limit up to 72 years and 279 days by his triumph at the 1920 Summer Olympics in Antwerp, Belgium.

Serbia and Montenegro were still out of the Olympic affairs, and the first athlete from these parts of Europea to win an Olympic gold medal was a British water polo player and swimmer name Paul Radmilović, who was originally from Boka Kotorska and Dubrovnik. Nicknamed Pavao, he was a member of the champion water polo team and the best 4 x 200m freestyle relay. He also won gold medals in water polo in Stockholm (1912) and in Antwerp (1920).


[edit] Sports

22 sports, representing 24 sporting disciplines, were contested at the 1908 Games. Swimming, diving and water polo are considered three disciplines of the same sport, aquatics. At the time, the tug-of-war events were considered part of the Athletics programme and the two different football codes (association and rugby (union)) were listed together. The International Olympic Committee now considers tug-of-war a separate sport, as well as referring to association football as simply "football" and to rugby union as "rugby".<ref name=OldSports>Olympic Sports of the Past</ref>

[edit] Participating nations

The 1908 Games featured athletes representing 22 National Olympic Committees. Finland, Turkey, and New Zealand (as part of the team from Australasia) made their first appearance at the Olympic Games.

[edit] Medal count

These are the top ten nations that won medals at the 1908 Games.

 Rank  Nation Gold Silver Bronze Total
1 Image:Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Great Britain (host nation) 56 51 38 145
2 Image:US flag 46 stars.svg United States 23 12 12 47
3 Image:Flag of Sweden.svg Sweden 8 6 11 25
4 Image:Flag of France.svg France 5 5 9 19
5 Image:Flag of the German Empire.svg Germany 3 5 6 14
6 Image:Hungary flag 1867.png Hungary 3 4 2 9
7 Image:Flag of Canada-1868-Red.svg Canada 3 3 10 16
8 Image:Flag of Norway.svg Norway 2 3 3 8
9 Image:Flag of Italy (1861-1946).svg Italy 2 2 0 4
10 Image:Flag of Belgium (civil).svg Belgium 1 5 2 8

[edit] Notes


[edit] See also

[edit] External links

Olympic Games}"> |
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SportsMedal countsNOCs
Summer Games: 1896, 1900, 1904, 19061, 1908, 1912, (1916)2, 1920, 1924, 1928, 1932, 1936, (1940)2, (1944)2, 1948, 1952, 1956, 1960, 1964, 1968, 1972, 1976, 1980, 1984, 1988, 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012, 2016, 2020, 2024
Winter Games: 1924, 1928, 1932, 1936, (1940)2, (1944)2, 1948, 1952, 1956, 1960, 1964, 1968, 1972, 1976, 1980, 1984, 1988, 1992, 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010, 2014, 2018, 2022
Athens 2004Turin 2006Beijing 2008Vancouver 2010London 2012

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1908 Summer Olympics

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