London 1908

London sets benchmark of quality

IV. Olympic Summer Games
Date April 27 - October 31
Participants 22 nations
2,047 athletes
(42 women)
Sports 24
Events 109
Patron King Edward VII. of Great Britain
Visitors 300,000
 

After the Olympic idea past the games of Paris and St. Louis each marginalised during the world exhibitions were almost doomed, it has revived by the until today not officially recognised intercalated games of Athens in 1906.
For the forthcoming games in 1908 Coubertin had destined Rome as next station that officially explained its candidature in 1903 as well. The Germans had already shown their interests in holding the games just on the session in Paris in 1901 that they liked to have the games in Berlin. But they retreated on the fact that the holding the games in 1912 in Berlin as Olympic city seemed to be as well as agreed. On 22 June 1904 Rome was unanimously nominated whereupon the loyalty of the pope was ensured. The concepts, the ideas for the venues, sports and the schedule sounded like great games. But in spite of candid efforts mainly on the part of the Italian IOC member and secretary-general of the games, Brunette d'Usseaux it became apparently that Rome could not perform the games.
Two years before there was established between Great Britain that gave its island isolation policy up, and France the so-called "entente cordiale", an alliance to isolate Germany, extended to the "triple entente" by Russia's joining. As expression of that both nations intended a corporate exhibition in London, and after the publication of Rome's resignation, Lord Desborough of Taplow picked up the idea to fetch the returned games to London. In the end of 1906 this idea became reality by the decision of the British Olympic Council.

Even if the games were spreaded again over months, it must keep hold of the fact that the British people have affixed their seal on the games maintained until today. The parade of nation established two years before in Athens strengthened. They built the White City, a stadium with 68,000 seats, directly next to the area of the world exhibition. But in opposite to 1900 and 1904 that time the main focus was directed to the Olympic Games. On 13 July 1908 the opening ceremony has taken place with King Edward VII. In the stadium itself an interior has been constructed where the swimming events could be performed. Although it cost the British quite an effort, they used the metric system, but they left open the option that the athletes could expend the distances from metres to yards and feet. Another boon for the Olympic Games was also the determination of rules by the British; and Coubertin let the Britsh slide since within the IOC nobody was there who had managed such an issue.
In London the question of amateures was picked up again. In effect the rule was given that only gentlemen may go in for sports, and not people earning money for that. Hereby the English passed on controls; eight decades later the former IOC president Samaranch picked up again this issue, how ever it was an aspect of Coubertin's Olympic idea. He wanted introduce that thought as an codex, but with the tennis millionaires of Seoul this plan was outdated.

Sir Theodore Andrea Cooke (1867-1928) was the first journalist significant for the Olympic movement. Being close to the Britsh Olympic Committee he developed 190 pages of competition rules for the coming games in London, among other things he decided that the metre distances would be mandatory. Coubertin appreciated this British reward and admitted Cooke to the IOC in 1909. But Cooke left again in 1915 because the IOC together with Coubertin refused to expel the German members (Venningen, Sierstorpff and Arnim-Muskau) as citizen of the warmonger Germany.

In summary, the Olympic Games of London 1908 pointed again in the right direction, clarification of the amateur status, limitation of participating athletes per event and nation, clarification of the nationality issue (in particular of Austria-Hungary and Finland that still belonged to Russia) and mainly the fixated rules strengthened the hitherto disintegrating base on which the games have rest before.

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Medal Tally
# Country G S B
1 Great Britain 56 50 40
2 USA 23 12 12
3 Sweden 8 6 11
4 France 5 5 9
5 Germany 3 5 5
6 Hungary 3 4 2
7 Canada 3 3 10
8 Norway 2 3 3
9 Italy 2 2 0
10 Belgium 1 5 2