Athens 1906

The "bastard" rescues the Olympic Games

The intercalated Games of Athens 1906
Date April 22 - May 2
Participants 19 nations
903 athletes
(20 women)
Sports 12
Events 78
Patron Crown Prince Konstantin of Greece
Visitors 300,000 (estimated)

Only on the base of the bad experiences of 1900 and 1904, as the games were catastrophally organised on the brink of the world exhibitions in Paris and St. Louis, the competition gone down as the intercalated games of Athens has been possible at all. The Athenians wished the games in a four-year cycle and therefor between the games in other metropolian cities in their home, back to the origin. In 1935 the Hamburgean journalist L.C. May wrote in his historical review: "The Greek invitation to break down the four-year cycle and to perform a 10th anniversary in Athens in 1906 was accepted after primary reluctance. Rather the bad memories would be covered with new impressions, better the futural development of the great opus likes to turn out." Because in the last years Pierre de Coubertin had completely misconceived the French and American possibilities.

Coubertin absented entirely hisself from the games. Chief cause was the little rivalry for the allocation of the games 1908. The Germans wanted at first, but that would be the endmost what Coubertin had wished. Coubertin had rather meant Rome, since the games there "could be enrobed with the precious toga woven off art and spirit." But the Romans had not any ambitions for the games so that they have given back Coubertin the games, and wishes from England's direction has been expressed; that was an overkill for Coubertin.

Even if Coubertin called these intercalated games of Athens as an "Olympic bastard", so just these have revived the Olympic idea and regained its strength after its almost total fall in 1900 and 1904. Seen from today's point of view, one can even understand these games as rescuer of the Olympic movement. Because the Athenians have made of the games again that like 1896: simply beautiful games. The gorgeous, marmoreal stadium of 1896, aestheticly embedded into the landscape of the Greek metropolis, fascinated athletes as well as visitors, even if the track with its too narrow curves prevented top performances. May outlined the atmosphere as following: "All competitors were placed together in a temple building, the Zappeion. Sheds have been build into the siteways and so outmost unpretentious quarters have been formed. The different meals offering basically an infinite varation of preparations of mutton were ingested in a large hall. In spite of or perhaps just due to the simplicity of the constructions the high melody of the true spirit of camaradeship blew always through the stands of the temple."

At these games one counteracted a fortuitous participations by a selection procedure not already called qualifications at that time. There was also the first approach of an Olympic village. Likewise shown was the influence of Coubertin in his own country that was appraised too high. Because although Coubertin was not really taken with Athens, the French people showed their solidarity with the Greeks. The Germans have also competed with 50 athletes, but only less could really perform services. Just the English and the Swedish could take along experience from Athens for London and Stockholm that have not been possible at the previous games.

More Topics
Olympic Family: On the eighth session Coubertin was absent. But just this was one...<more>
Symbolism: Even if that intercalated games of Athens have not got any numeration...<more>
Sports: Compared with 1904 the programme was very tightened, only 78 of...<more>
First-time medallists: The first medals at Olympic Games, even if these of Athens are...<more>
Medal Tally
# Country G S B
1 France 15 10 16
2 USA 12 6 6
3 Greece 8 15 13
4 Great Britain 8 12 5
5 Italy 7 6 3
6 Switzerland 5 6 4
7 Germany 4 6 5
8 Norway 4 2 1
9 Austria 3 3 3
10 Denmark 3 2 1