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The Games of 1900 were held in Paris as part of the World’s Fair. The organisers spread the competitions over five months and under-promoted their Olympic status to such an extent that many athletes never knew they had actually participated in the Olympic Games.
Tennis was one of five sports in which athletes from different nations competed on the same team. The others were football, polo, rowing and tug of war. Women made their first appearance in the modern Games. The first to compete were Mrs Brohy and Miss Ohnier of France in croquet.
An Englishman travelled all the way from Nice to watch the women’s croquet event, which consisted only of French players. According to the records, his was the only entry ticket sold for the competition!
The star of the Games was American Alvin Kraenzlein, who won the 60m, the 110m hurdles, 200m hurdles and the long jump. In general, there were many French champions at these Games, which was not surprising given several events were entered only by French competitors.
Athletes: 997 (22 women, 975 men)
On 26 August 1900, the Dutch coxed pair suddenly needed a replacement coxswain. A French boy was chosen and the Dutch pair rowed to a close victory. The French boy joined in the victory ceremony and had his photograph taken. Then he disappeared. Years of research have failed to turn up a clue as to his name or his actual age. Judging a Parisian boy of 1900 with present-day eyes, he could be anywhere from 7 to 12 years old.
After the preliminary rounds, Myer Prinstein (USA-athletics) was leading in the long jump competition. Because of his religious beliefs, he refused to take part in the final as this was scheduled for a Sunday. In the final, his compatriot and rival Alvin Kraenzlein beat him by one centimetre. Prinstein was allegedly so angry that he attacked and punched Kraenzlein in the face.
In sports such as polo, sailing, athletics and tennis, medals were won by teams comprising athletes of different nationalities.
The sailing regattas took place on the Seine, but in two places: on the Meulan, 20km from Paris, and in the port of Le Havre, located at the mouth of the Seine. This was due to the big draught of certain boats which prevented them from navigating the river. The categories were established according to the number of tons (the norm at the time) of the boat.
The croquet event had only French players, who were actually from Paris, but the only entry ticket sold for the competition was bought by an Englishman, who had travelled from Nice especially for the occasion.
In fencing, one of the competitions organised away from the Games venue pitted fencing masters against their students. The results favoured a teacher who won against his student.
French athletes won many medals at these Games. Not only because there were many more of them than athletes from the foreign delegations, but also because certain events were entered by only French competitors.
In gymnastics, to win the title in the individual all-round event, the athlete had to shine in 16 different movements to be performed on several pieces of apparatus. Some exercises of this era, such as the 50kg stone lifting or the rope climbing, disappeared from gymnastics some time afterwards, while others, like the pole vault, changed sport.
Paris 3 June 1900, Games of the II Olympiad. Gymnasts parade in the "Vélodrome de Vincennes" during the Federal Meeting of the Union of Gymnastics Associations of France.
Official opening of the Games by:
No official opening.
Lighting the Olympic Flame by:
A symbolic fire at an Olympic Summer Games was first lit in 1928 in Amsterdam.
Olympic Oath by:
The athletes’ oath was first sworn at the 1920 Olympic Games in Antwerp.
Official Oath by:
The officials' oath at an Olympic Summer Games was first sworn in 1972 in Munich.
On the obverse, a winged goddess holding laurel branches in both hands, arms raised. In the background, underneath, a view of the city of Paris and the monuments of the Universal Exhibition.
On the reverse, a victorious athlete standing on a podium, holding a laurel branch in his right hand, arm raised. In the background, a stadium and the Acropolis of Athens.
During the 1900 Universal Exhibition, certain events of international physical exercise and sports competitions were recognised as Olympic and made up the programme of the second modern Olympic Games. Several posters were created-athletics, rowing, cycling, fencing and gymnastics. Here, a female fencer holding in her right hand the three traditional weapons- foil, sword and sabre. However, it should be noted that women did not compete in the fencing competitions until 1924.
The Organising Committee for the Games in Paris, where the sports competitions took place as part of the Universal Exhibition, did not publish an official report. Rather, it is the work “Concours internationaux d’exercices physiques et de sports” by Daniel Mérillon which is regarded as the official report on the 1900 Olympic Games in Paris. Published in French between 1901 and 1902, this very detailed work consists of two volumes and has more than 800 pages.