The Summer Olympics


The rather idiosyncratic The Summer Olympics. A Historical Step into the Topic is not the translator’s title! Title as translated (in accordance with the German title): The Olympic Games up to 1936

The Summer Olympics. A Historical Step into the Topic, by Karl Lennartz (p. 183, Olympics – Past & Present)

© 2013 Qatar Olympic & Sports Museum, Qatar Museums Authority and Prestel Verlag, Munich-London-New York.

Classification attempts

Starting from the first modern Olympic Games in Athens in 1896 (Fig. 1) up to the games in London in 2012 the International Olympic Committee (IOC) organised 28 Summer Games and, up to the 2012 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, 21 Winter Games. In the period from 1896 to the present day, eight planned Games were cancelled as a result of the the First and Second World Wars.

The rest of this introductory part varies so widely from my translation that I cannot post it as my work here.


Applications and awarding

These days, application for and the awarding of Olympic Games are exactingly governed in various paragraphs of the Olympic Charter. During the period from 1896 to 1944 the procedure was far simpler, probably also on account of the fact that there were no ways to make high financial gains. In 1921 statutes (Ólympic Charter) concerning the formalities of an application were set up with a handful of rules.


The selection of the first three Olympic cities originates in large part from Baron Pierre de Coubertin, who at the first Olympics Founding Congress in 1894 at the Sorbonne, Paris, planned originally to host the first modern Olympic Games in 1900 in conjunction with the World’s Fair foreseen [sic! As translated: planned] in Paris. The Greek representative Demetrius Vikelas opposed this in favour of games in Athens already in 1896 (Fig. 2). Coubertin allowed himself to be persuaded and developed the idea of organising games in 1896 in one of Antiquity’s capitals, in 1900 in the cultural capital of the world, and in 1904 in a city of the ‘New World’. For the Olympic Games in 1904 the IOC and Coubertin initially planned Chicago. However, Coubertin then had his mind changed by US President Theodor Roosevelt; the IOC followed him and chose St. Louis. It was also there, with one year’s delay, that a world’s fair (Louisian Purchase Exposition or The Saint Louis World’s Fair) took place to mark ‘100 Years Louisiana’ (actually 1903).

Yielding to pressure from the Greeks and with the support of numerous members, the IOC decided in 1901 to stage another series of Olympic games in the middle of each Olympia in Athens. However, Coubertin did not agree to this. The first and only Games of this series took place in 1906 in Athens; the ones planned for 1910 fell victim to martial conflicts in the Balkan region. After the Athens – Paris – St. Louis triad Coubertin wanted another. For 1908 the IOC chose Rome, the second metropolis of antiquity. The intended successors were London (or Berlin) and another American city. As there were no preparations of any kind in Rome and the Games in Paris and St. Louis barely had any more relevance, the Olympic Movement probably would have met its end without a murmur. At the IOC session in 1906 in Athens, in which Coubertin did not participate because he rejected the Games in Athens, successful links were forged with the English sports managers in attendance there; they were willing to jump in at short notice and organise the Games in 1908 in London. In 1909 the IOC met in Berlin in order to designate this city as host of the 1912 Games. As the funding for a stadium could not be secured, Berlin had to pass up the opportunity. Instead, the city of Stockholm, which had intended intially to apply for 1916, showed willing. As the financial means for stadium construction in Berlin had meanwhile become available, the IOC in 1912 in Stockholm was able to choose the city of Berlin as host for 1916. With the outbreak of the First World War, however, these Games were subsequently cancelled.

(continues to page 203)