1906 Summer Olympics

The 1906 Summer Olympics are the fourth modern Olympic games, held in Athens. They are also known as the 1906 Intercalated Games.

Origin

The Intercalated Games had been scheduled by the IOC in 1901 as part of a new schedule, where every four years, in between the internationally organised games, there would be intermediate games held in Athens. This was apparently a bit of a compromise: After the successful games of Athens 1896 the Greeks suggested they could organise the games every four years. Since they had the accommodations, and had proven to be able to hold well-organised games, they received quite a bit of support. However, Pierre de Coubertin did not like this at all, if for no other reason than because he had intended the first games to be in Paris in 1900, and he had no intention of not only losing the première for Paris, but losing the games as well. Thus the second games became the Paris 1900 games.

When these games turned out less than perfect and were overshadowed by the Exposition Universelle the IOC supported the Greek idea, by granting them a second series of quadrennial games, in between the first series. All of the games would be International Olympic Games; the difference was just that half of them would follow De Coubertin's idea of organising them in different countries to make the Olympic Movement more international, while the other half would follow the Greeks' idea of a permanent home with the Greek National Olympic Committee as experienced organisers. This was a departure of the ancient schedule, but it was expected that if the ancient Greek could keep a four year schedule, the modern Olympic Movement could keep a two year schedule. As 1902 was now too close, and Greece experienced internal difficulties, the 2nd Olympic Games in Athens were scheduled for 1906.

As the 1904 Summer Olympics were hijacked by the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, and as a result met with a fate similar to that of Paris 1900, the Olympic Movement was not in good shape. It desperately needed to recapture the spirit of Athens 1896. It also needed to do so quickly, as to all those who didn't participate in St. Louis, Rome 1908 meant an 8 year gap. By that time there would not be much goodwill left for the Games. And on top of that, Rome was planning an Exhibition. The Athens games being just around the corner must have seemed like a lifeline. De Coubertin still disliked the idea, and didn't do anything more than his function required him to. But the IOC as a whole gave the Greek NOC full support for the organisation.

First Intercalated Games

The 1906 games were quite successful. Unlike the 1900, 1904 or 1908 games, they were neither stretched out over months nor overshadowed by an international exhibition. Their crisp format was most likely instrumental in the continued existence of the games.

These Games also were the first games to have all athlete registration go through the NOCs. They were the first to have the Opening of the Games as a separate event; an event at which for the first time the athletes marched into the stadium in national teams, each following its national flag. They introduced the closing ceremony, and the raising of national flags for the victors, and several less-visible changes we now accept as traditional.

Athletes from the United States, open day, marching past the Royal family

Destiny

The Greeks were unable to keep the schedule for 1910. On the one hand the problems on the Balkan made things difficult, but on the other, the modern Greeks found out the Ancient Greeks were right: A two year interval was too short. Where there had been a gap of six years before Athens 1906 (because of the almost All-American nature of the 1904 St Louis games), a gap of two years after London 1908 did not leave people enough time to prepare.

With Athens 1910 a failure, the faith in Athens diminished, and as a result Athens 1914 got even less support. And then World War One started, and any further Intercalated Games had to wait until after the war. But after the war was over it had been more than a decade since Athens 1906, and the idea of Intercalated Games was given up entirely.

Downgrading

Since the 2nd International Olympic Games in Athens now had become an exception, the personal views of various IOC chairmen caused the IOC to retroactively downgrade the 1906 games, and the explanation for the games became that they had been a 10th anniversary celebration. As more stress was placed on the continuing sequence of four-year Olympiads, the games of 1906 did not fit in. Hence, today the IOC does not recognize Athens 1906 as Olympic Games, and does not regard any events occurring there, such as the setting of new records or the winning of medals, as official.

The success of Athens 1906, however, may have been what kept the Olympics alive. And as the next games are always built on the successes of the last, the innovations of Athens were used again in London, and eventually became Olympic tradition. In fact, the influence of the First Intercalated Games pervades the Olympics, with the holding of the Games concentrated in a small time period, at a small area, and with good organization. To a large number of people these are good enough reasons to continue pressing the IOC to recognise the 1906 games.

Wintersports

Since there were no wintersports at the First Intercalated games, the idea has risen that this was because the IOC had made such an explicit requirement. In reality, though the IOC had intended some wintersports to be Olympic, before London 1908 none of the games included any wintersports, and Athens 1906 was no exception.

There is however a different connection between Intercalated Games and wintersports. For 1994 the idea of intermediate games was reintroduced when the cycle for the Winter Olympic Games was shifted two years, resulting in Olympics every two years, with alternating Summer and Winter Olympics.

George Giorgantas, Discus Throw observed by Prince George and Prince Nicholas , left sitting

Games

The Games were held from April 22 to May 2, 1906, in Athens, Greece. For the first time, the registration of athletes had been handled entirely through the NOCs. The games excluded several disciplines that had occurred during the past two games; it was unclear whether they ought to have been part of the Olympic Games or of the World Exhibitions. Added to the program were the javelin throw and the pentathlon.

The games were a success, with large crowds following the events each day. They also saw, probably for the first time, opening ceremonies as a separate event, flags hoisted for the victors, and a closing ceremony. In these, as well as several other aspects, the 2nd Olympics in Athens set an example followed to this day.

Steinbach (872) and Tofalos (700)

Opening

The games included a real opening ceremony, watched by a large crowd. The athletes, for the first time, entered the stadium as national teams, marching behind their flags. The official opening of the games was done by King Georgios I.

George Giorgantas, Stone Throw

Highlights

There were only two standing jump events in Athens, but Ray Ewry successfully defended his titles in both of them, bringing his total up to 8 gold medals. In 1908 he would successfully defend them one last time for an unparalleled 10 Olympic titles.

Paul Pilgrim won both the 400 and 800 meters, a feat that was first repeated during Montreal 1976 by Alberto Juantorena.

Long Jumper A. Priftis and Triple Jumper Stavros Lelokos set the worst Olympic results ever in their disciplines (5.235 m and 11.455 m, respectively).

Canadian Billy Sherring lived in Greece for two months, to adjust to the local conditions. His efforts paid off as he unexpectedly won the Marathon. Prince George accompanied him on the final lap.

Järvinen, Finland

Finland made its Olympic debut, and immediately won a gold medal, as Verner Järvinen won the Discus, Greek style event.

Running High Jump winner C. Leahy from Ireland

Closing ceremony

Six thousand schoolchildren took part in possibly the first ever Olympic closing ceremony.

Sports

  • Athletics
  • Canoeing
  • Cycling
  • Fencing
  • Gymnastics
  • Rowing
  • Soccer
  • Shooting
  • Swimming
  • Tennis
  • Tug of War
  • Weightlifting
  • Wrestling

Medal count

(Host nation in bold.)

1906 Summer Olympics medal count
Pos Country Gold Silver Bronze Total
1 France 15 9 16 40
2 United States 12 6 5 23
3 Greece 8 14 12 34
4 Great Britain 8 11 5 24
5 Italy 7 6 3 16
6 Switzerland 5 6 4 15
7 Germany 4 6 5 15
8 Norway 4 2 1 7
9 Austria 3 3 2 8
10 Denmark 3 2 1 6
11 Sweden 2 5 7 14
12 Hungary 2 5 3 10
13 Belgium 2 2 3 7
14 Finland 2 1 1 4
15 Canada 1 1 0 2
16 Netherlands 0 1 2 3
17 Australia 0 0 3 3
18 Bohemia 0 0 2 2
19 Egypt 0 0 0 0
20 Turkey 0 0 0 0
68 80 75 223


One silver medal won by a combined Greek/Belgian team is counted for both. Not counted are a silver medal for Smyrna, and a bronze medal for Thessalonika.


Olympic Games

Summer Olympic 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

Winter Olympic 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

¹Not currently recognised as official by the IOC. ²Cancelled due to war.

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