What do the Olympic Games
tell us about the 20th century?
Details of the individual
Potential themes: who can find 12?
• Impact of war. No games 1916, 1940, 1944.
Germany not invited to 1920 or 1924.
• Improving technology and communication.
• Nationalism (1908)
• Games used for propaganda/political
purposes (1972, 1980.1984 )
• Racial tension (1936, 1968)
• Affects of world economic crisis (1932, 2012
compared with 2008)
• Geographical changes (Germanies,
Balkans former USSR etc)
• Political changes
• Changing world order
• Professionalism v Amateurism Chariots
of Fire v Ben Johnson
• Cheating/drugs etc
• Women’s role.
• Equal rights: Paralympics
• Shrinking world
• Faster transport.
• And more…
• The discus and hammer throwers often
found that there wasn't enough room to
throw, so their shots landed in the trees;
the hurdles were made out of broken
telephone poles; and the swimming events
were conducted in the Seine River which
had an extremely strong current.
• Women first participated as contestants.
1904 - St Louis
• Only 100 of the 681 who turned up came
from Europe, about 500 were from the
• Athletes from the USA had won 238
medals, among which 78 were gold, 83
silver and 77 bronze.
• Germany, the country that came second in
the medal list, had won only 13 medals...
1908 - London
• Britain's recent refusal to give Ireland its
independence caused Irish athletes to
boycott the Games and caused
contestants from the U.S to not dip the
American flag to the British royalty during
the opening ceremony (a tradition the U.S.
continues to this day).
1912 - Stockholm
• The Games also benefited from the use of
electric timing devices and a public
address system which were first used at
these Olympic Games.
In 1912 Jim Thorpe, a Native American, became the
only man to win both the decathlon and pentathlon in
one year. Officials cancelled his record and took
back his medals when they learned that he had
played professional baseball
1916 No games
• During World War One
1920 - Antwerp
• The world had seen much bloodshed. Should the
aggressors of the war be invited to the Olympic Games?
The Olympic ideals stated that all countries should be
allowed entrance into the Games. Though Germany,
Austria, Bulgaria, Turkey, and Hungary were not
forbidden to come, they were also not sent an invitation
by the Organizing Committee. These countries were
again not invited to the 1924 Olympic Games. In
addition, the newly formed Soviet Union decided not to
attend. (Athletes from the Soviet Union did not reappear
at the Olympics until 1952.)
• It was this Olympics that became
fictionalized in the Academy Award
winning film Chariots of Fire in 1981.
• Germany returned to the Olympic Games
for the first time since 1912, after being
banned from the 1920 and 1924 Games.
The German team finished second in the
1928 medal count.
• Held during the worldwide Great
Depression, many nations and athletes
were unable to pay for the trip to Los
• Italy came second in the medal table
• Germany topped the medal table
• Jesse Owens
• By allowing only members of the
Aryan race to compete for Germany,
Hitler further promoted his
ideological belief of racial
supremacy. At the same time, the
party removed signs stating "Jews
not wanted" and similar slogans from
the city's main tourist attractions. In
an attempt to "clean up" Berlin .
1940 & 1944 No games
• During World War Two
1948 - London
• Not much money after the war
• It was agreed that the participants would
bring their own food.
• London was the first Olympics to have a
political defection. Gold medal Czech
gymnast refused to return home, because
Russia was now in control
• No new facilities were built for these
1952 - Helsinki
• West Germany got no gold medals, only
fully recognised by IOC in 1951.
• USA 40 and USSR 22 dominated as super
powers. Games became politicised
• Questions of who now went to the
Olympics. West and East Germany,
• China Taiwan?
1956 - Melbourne
• First games that most athletes flew to.
• USA and USSR still dominate.
• Some countries boycotted because of way
the USSR put down a revolt in Hungary
• Australia third in medal table.
1960 - Rome
• West Germany now fourth in medal table.
USSR well ahead of USA. Space age Cold
War rivalry between USA and USSR was
seen in the games too.
• The 1960 Olympic Games were the first
Olympics to be fully covered by television.
1964 - Tokyo
• The first time South Africa was barred
from taking part due to its apartheid
system in sports.
• Japan third in medal table just 20 year
after the war.
• The games were telecast to the United
States using the first geostationary
communication satellite, and from there to
• Black Power American athletes Tommy Smith
and John Carlos demonstrated against racial
segregation in their country. As they stood on
the podium to receive their medals for the 200
metres, they raised black-gloved fists and bowed
their heads when the American flag was raised.
This gesture was their way of showing their
support for the “ Black Power ” movement. As a
result, they were sent home.
1972 - Munich
• Largely overshadowed by what has come
to be known as the Munich massacre.
Arab-Israeli conflict leads to 12 Israeli
athletes being shot by Palestinians.
• East and West Germany came 3rd and 4th
• West Germany overhauled USA
In protest at a tour of South Africa by the New Zealand
All Blacks rugby union team early in the year, Congo's
officialled a boycott of 28 African nations as the IOC
refused to bar the New Zealand team.
• No US presence. Boycott over USSR’s
invasion of Afghanistan. Even Britain
came close to boycotting.
• USSR and East Germany dominated.
• "Third World" athletes qualified for more
events and took more medals than at any
1984 – Los Angeles
• No USSR presence. In response to the
American-led boycott of the 1980 Summer
Olympics in Moscow, 14 Eastern Bloc countries
and allies including the Soviet Union, Cuba and
East Germany boycotted the Games
• China 4th in medal table
• Eleven athletes failed drug tests at the Los
• First time Marathon for women.
1988 – Seoul S. Korea
• As of the 1988 Summer Olympics in
Seoul, South Korea, the host city for the
Olympics has also played host to the
• Ten athletes were disqualified after drug
tests revealed steroid abuse
• United Germany took part after the fall of
the Berlin wall in 1989
• South Africa was allowed to compete in
the Olympics for the first time since the
1960 Games, after a long suspension for
its apartheid policy.
• For the first time, Olympic medals were won
by the athletes from Armenia, Azerbaijan,
Belarus, Burundi, Ecuador, Georgia, Hong
Kong, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Mozambique,
Slovakia, Tonga, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan
Eleven of the ex-Soviet countries made their debut
Coca-Cola, whose corporate headquarters is in
Atlanta, received criticism for being the
exclusive drink offered in Olympic venues.
2000 - Sydney
• Torch bearer, and gold medal winner Cathy
Freeman was Aboriginal.
• Marion Jones, winner of three gold and two
bronze medals for the United States, gave
them back in October 2007 after confessing
that she had taken drugs.
• Afghanistan did not participate in 2000, having
been banned due to the extremist rule of the
Taliban's oppression of women and its
prohibition of sports.
2004 - Athens
• For the first time, major broadcasters were
allowed to serve video coverage of the
Olympics over For the first time, major
broadcasters were allowed to serve video
coverage of the Olympics over the Internet
Also since 2000, Yugoslavia had changed
its name to Serbia and Montenegro
• Largest ever medals tally in China's
Olympic history and marking the first time
China has ranked first.
• They had entered the biggest team into
the Olympics with a huge number of over
• Efforts to reduce air pollution in the Beijing
• What will the issues be then?