London 1908

Olympic symbolism

One of the most important items that does not belong to the known "symbols" of the Olympic Games, but which is immediately connected to them, is the question of the amateures. In opposite to 1900 which has been used as base for the 1908's program (excepting golf, aviation and automotive sports) here only amateures were allowed. Whether an athlete was such an amateure or professional, this had to been assured by his own national federation, otherwise the IOC itself had to decide it. A commonly used instrument to estimate the strength and success of a nation has its origin in 1908. Earl d'Usseaux donated the Pallas Athene Cup for the most success team of the games which the Britons have admittedly won. Therefore the today's known and often contended medal tally was born. Furthermore the flags of the participating countries waved over the tiers, an accepted custom maintained until today. Not only Sweden but also the Britons have missed their own flags, the Irishmen had to start under the flag of Great Bitain, Finland did not get an own flag because of its national belonging to Russia... and the most athletes did not understand the rules and the judges were all Britons. That is the reason why there were a lot of things that still had to be changed.