The men’s gymnastics competitions in Los Angeles were the most extensive in Olympic history. In addition to the current Olympic Program of floor exercises, parallel bars, horizontal bar, rings, pommelled horse, and horse vault, competitions in tumbling, club swinging and rope climbing were also held. The floor exercises were held for the first time at the Olympic Games. Individual and team all-around competitions also took place, thus, there were fully 11 men’s gymnastics events. Women had competed at the 1928 Olympics in a team all-around but did not compete in 1932.
All competitions were performed outdoors at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, partly in the evening hours under floodlights. However, only seven countries took part: Finland, Hungary, Italy, Japan and the United States with teams, as well as individual gymnasts from Mexico and Switzerland. The great star of the Games was Romeo Neri from Italy, winning three gold medals. He was followed by the Hungarian István Pelle and Heikki Savolainen from Finland.
One of the most unusual events was the demonstration by large groups of men and women on the evening of 10 August. Several different local groups, composed of Czechoslovak and Yugoslav Sokols, members of the Turnverein Germania, and Mexican and Japanese gymnasts, performed various gymnastic demonstrations in front of a large crowd. The Sokols performed to music, while the Turnvereins did individual and group exercises, with the Mexicans performing allegorical exercises and dances, all their performers dressed as Montezuma’s warriors, and the Japanese demonstrated their native athletic activities, including ken-dō (fencing with bamboo sticks) and ju-jitsu. There were approximately 1,000 athletes in the demonstration.