Angry with athletics for women not being held at the Olympics, the Frenchwoman Alice Milliat founded the Fédération Sportive Féminine Internationale (FSFI) in 1921. The next year, she held the first Women’s Olympic Games in Pershing Stadium, Vincennes, France, just outside of Paris, which attracted participants from five nations (Czechoslovakia, France, Great Britain, Switzerland, and the United States). During the 1922 Women’s Olympic Games, 18 world records were bettered. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) was not happy with the use of the word “Olympic”, and the second edition, held in Göteborg, Sweden, in 1926 used the name “2nd International Ladies Games”. It had 10 participating nations, and as in 1922, many world records were broken.
After the success of Mme. Milliat’s organization, the International Amateur Athletic Federation (IAAF – now the International Association of Athletics Federations) was forced to take notice, after snubbing women’s athletics for many years. The IAAF had altered their rules in July 1924 to draw up guidelines to manage women’s athletics, but was insistent at the time that no women’s events should be contested at the Olympic Games. The IAAF held their 8th Congress from 5-8 August 1926, shortly before the 1926 Women’s World Games began, and considered a report by a Special Committee on Women’s Athletics. Addition of women’s track & field onto the program of the 1928 Olympics was passed by the Congress by a vote of 12-5, with Australia, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, and Great Britain opposing the motion, and it was decided that the FSFI would govern the women’s sport, but under the aegis of the IAAF. At the 4th Congress of the FSFI, held in Göteborg from 27-29 August 1926, during the Ladies Games, the International Committee voted to accept the IAAF offer to include women’s athletics in the Olympics, with only Great Britain voting against, but they also noted that the program should consist of 10 events. Only five women’s events were eventually contested in Amsterdam. This led to a boycott from the British Women’s Athletic Association, which had been the strongest nation at the 1922 and 1926 Women’s Olympics, and had opposed the idea at the 1926 Congress. Also, Milliat and the FSFI were determined to continue with the Women’s World Games (the new name of the event) and rival the Olympic Games. To that end, other sports than track and field were included in the editions of 1930 (Praha), contested by 17 nations, and 1934 (London), with 19 nations competing. But by 1936, despite the FSFI having 30 member nations, the IAAF had gained near-full control of women’s athletics, the foundation of the Women’s World Games, and the FSFI and the Women’s World Games ceased to exist.