1900 Summer Olympics

Facts

Competition type Olympic Games
Host city Paris, France (Venues)
Opening ceremony
Closing ceremony
Competition dates 14 May – 28 October
OCOG Concours d'exercices physiques et de sports (1900)
Participants 1225 from 31 countries
Medal events 96 in 21 disciplines
Other events 160 in 14 disciplines

Overview

The 1900 and 1904 Olympics were associated with world fairs and became Games quite unlike anything we know today. In 1900, Paris hosted a great world’s fair, the Exposition Universelle Internationale de 1900 à Paris. Coubertin made plans to hold the Olympics as part of the fair and planned to organize the events, but the organizers of the fair relegated Coubertin to a relatively minor administrative position and took over the organization of the sporting events connected with the fair.

Most of the events we today consider “Olympic” were not even labeled as such in 1900, often being called the “Championnats d’Exposition”. Years later, many athletes did not know they had competed in the Olympic Games, believing that their sport had been only a part of the World’s Fair. Only the athletics (track & field) events were really publicized in the media as being part of the Olympics.

The Games were stretched out over five months (May-October) and true Opening and Closing Ceremonies were not held. It is difficult to know, because of the confusion over titles, and the many, many events held at the fair, what events should actually be considered “Olympic” and which should not. The IOC had no real control of this and thus one sees various listings. Many unusual sports and events were contested such as motorboating, balloon racing, underwater swimming, and an obstacle swimming race.

The athletics caused a great deal of controversy. The French scheduled Sunday competition, which was not considered de rigeur in the United States in 1900. The Americans threatened not to compete and the French at first reconsidered, moving many of the events to 14 July. However, 14 July was Bastille Day, so the French moved the start of some events back to Sunday, 15 July. The Americans were confused by much of this, and many of them, notably several pole vaulters, failed to show for their events.

The star of the Games was Al Kraenzlein, who through 2016 remains the only athlete to win four individual gold medals in track & field at a single Olympics. In the long jump, Kraenzlein met his arch-rival, Meyer Prinstein, a Jew. Both competed on Saturday, with Prinstein leading the qualifying for the long jump. The finals were to be held on Sunday and Prinstein refused to compete out of principle, although he had competed on his Sabbath. Kraenzlein did compete on Sunday and posted a winning jump that surpassed Prinstein’s Saturday effort. Prinstein proposed a Monday jump-off, which Kraenzlein refused. Prinstein then punched Kraenzlein in the mouth and the two feuded for years.

Women made their Olympic début, with the first known competitors being croquet players and one yachtswoman, Hélène de Pourtalès. Charlotte Cooper (GBR) won the first championships by a woman, in tennis singles and mixed doubles. Margaret Abbott (USA) won the “Olympic” golf championship in early October. Neither of those two sports were labeled as Olympic by the organizers. Years later, Abbott’s relatives did not know for certain that the title she won that day had been for the Olympic championship. Incidentally, in some sports, medals were not awarded. Most of the listed prizes were cups and other similar trophies. In several sports, notably fencing and shooting, professional events were held and considered later by the IOC to be “Olympic” events.

Of the 1900 Olympics, the best that can be said is that there was very little of true Olympic stature. The Olympic Movement awaited better, but it would have to wait for eight years.

Bid process

Paris was selected to host the 1900 Olympic Games at the Sorbonne Congress in Paris on 24 June 1894, after Athens had been selected to host the 1896 Olympic Games.

Ceremonies

Medal Disciplines

Archery Equestrian Driving Rugby
Artistic Gymnastics Equestrian Jumping Sailing
Athletics Fencing Shooting
Basque pelota Football Swimming
Cricket Golf Tennis
Croquet Polo Tug-Of-War
Cycling Track Rowing Water Polo

Other Disciplines

Archery Baseball Fishing
Artistic Gymnastics Boules Golf
Athletics Croquet Motorcycle Sports
Automobile Racing Cycling Track Tennis
Ballooning Firefighting

Medal table

NOC Gold Silver Bronze Total
France FRA 27 38 36 101
United States USA 19 14 15 48
Great Britain GBR 15 8 9 32
Mixed team MIX 8 5 7 20
Belgium BEL 6 7 4 17
Switzerland SUI 6 2 1 9
Germany GER 4 3 2 9
Italy ITA 3 2 0 5
Australia AUS 2 0 3 5
Denmark DEN 1 3 2 6
Hungary HUN 1 2 2 5
Cuba CUB 1 1 0 2
Canada CAN 1 0 1 2
Luxembourg LUX 1 0 0 1
Spain ESP 1 0 0 1
Austria AUT 0 3 3 6
Netherlands NED 0 2 3 5
Norway NOR 0 2 3 5
India IND 0 2 0 2
Bohemia BOH 0 1 1 2
Sweden SWE 0 0 1 1

Mixed team medals

NOC Gold Silver Bronze Total
Great Britain GBR 5 3 5 13
France FRA 3 5 3 11
United States USA 2 2 2 6
Netherlands NED 1 0 1 2
Australia AUS 1 0 0 1
Denmark DEN 1 0 0 1
Haiti HAI 1 0 0 1
New Zealand NZL 1 0 0 1
Sweden SWE 1 0 0 1
Colombia COL 0 1 0 1
Belgium BEL 0 0 2 2
Bohemia BOH 0 0 1 1
Mexico MEX 0 0 1 1

Most successful competitors

Athlete Nat Gold Silver Bronze Total
Al Kraenzlein USA 4 0 0 4
Konrad Stäheli SUI 3 0 1 4
John Jarvis GBR 3 0 0 3
Ray Ewry USA 3 0 0 3
Irv Baxter USA 2 3 0 5
Walter Tewksbury USA 2 2 1 5
Hubert Van Innis BEL 2 2 0 4
Emil Kellenberger SUI 2 1 0 3
Charles Bennett GBR 2 1 0 3
Laurie Doherty GBR 2 0 1 3
Reggie Doherty GBR 2 0 1 3

All medalists at these Games