1932 Summer Olympics

Facts

Competition type Olympic Games
Host city (Venues)
Opening ceremony 30 July
Closing ceremony 14 August
Competition dates 30 July – 14 August
OCOG Organizing Committee of the Games of the Xth Olympiad
Participants 1925 from 47 countries
Medal events 131 in 21 disciplines
Other events 2 in 2 disciplines

Overview

The Olympics came to America in 1932, but the depression and the travel distance from Europe kept the international turnout low. Less than half as many athletes competed as in 1928 as many nations sent only small squads. The Games saw the introduction of automatic timing in track & field, and an Olympic Village (although there had been a small one in 1924). The political situation was becoming a bit more tenuous in 1932, although that would only worsen in the ensuing decade. Japan had recently taken over the Chinese province of Manchuria, and tried to enter athletes in the Olympics from the state it called Manchukuo, but without success. In retaliation, China sent a lone athlete to the Olympics, Liu Changchun, who ran in the 200 metres.

The 1932 Olympic Games also saw the unveiling of a woman to rival the male feats of Jim Thorpe. Mildred Ella “Babe” Didrikson was a 21-year-old Texas tomboy in 1932. She was from Dallas and was heralded even before the Olympics. At the 1932 AAU Championships, her team, Employer’s Casualty, won the team title. Babe was the entire team.

Restrictions on women’s participation prevented Babe from showing her true colors. She was allowed to enter only three events, though no such restriction existed for men, and she had qualified by winning the American trials in the 80 metre hurdles, the high jump, and the javelin throw. At the Olympics, she won the javelin throw, and won the high hurdles (in a virtual dead-heat with Evelyne Hall [USA]). She was second in the high jump although she tied for first with Jean Shiley. In the jump-off Didrikson was disqualified for diving over the bar head-first, although the technique was identical to the one she had used throughout the competition.

Had she been able to compete in more events, it is likely that Babe could have won medals in the discus throw, relay, and long jump. The 200 was not contested in 1932 but Babe would have been competitive in that event also. The women’s pentathlon did not make the Olympic program until 1964, but Didrikson would have won that event in 1932 more easily than Jim Thorpe won the decathlon in 1912. Thorpe was able to witness the deeds of the Texas wonder-woman. He could not afford a ticket to the Olympic events but was in Los Angeles. When US Vice-President Charles Curtis heard of Thorpe’s plight, he invited him to watch the Olympics in his private box, and Thorpe availed himself of the offer.

After the Olympics, Babe Didrikson took up golf and became the greatest women’s player in that sport. She won the 1946 US Women’s Amateur and the 1947 British Ladies’ Amateur and then turned professional. As a professional, she won the US Women’s Open in 1948, 1950, and 1954 (shortly before her death). From 1948 to 1951, she was the leading money winner on the LPGA circuit, the first four years of its existence, and she won 31 LPGA sanctioned events.

Paavo Nurmi also attempted to compete at the 1932 Olympics but could not. Shortly before the Games, on 3 April, the Executive Board of the IOC declared him a professional for having received money during a tour of Germany. He had planned to run the marathon in 1932 and it is almost certain that he would have won that race, had he been allowed to compete.

The 1932 Olympics ended emotionally with the huge crowd in the Los Angeles Coliseum joining the Olympic Chorus in singing “Aloha” as the sun set and the Games ended.

Bid process

Los Angeles, California (United States) was awarded the Games of the Xth Olympiad by acclamation at the 22nd IOC Session in Rome on 8 April 1923. There were no other serious candidate cities.

Ceremonies

Officially opened by Charles Curtis (Vice-President)
Taker of the Athlete's Oath George Calnan
Flagbearers Full list

Medal Disciplines

Alpinism Diving Rowing
Art Competitions Equestrian Dressage Sailing
Artistic Gymnastics Equestrian Eventing Shooting
Athletics Equestrian Jumping Swimming
Boxing Fencing Water Polo
Cycling Road Hockey Weightlifting
Cycling Track Modern Pentathlon Wrestling

Other Disciplines

American Football Lacrosse

Medal table

NOC Gold Silver Bronze Total
United States USA 44 36 30 110
Italy ITA 12 12 12 36
France FRA 11 5 4 20
Sweden SWE 10 5 9 24
Japan JPN 7 7 4 18
Hungary HUN 6 5 5 16
Germany GER 5 12 7 24
Finland FIN 5 8 12 25
Great Britain GBR 5 7 5 17
Poland POL 3 2 4 9
Australia AUS 3 1 1 5
Argentina ARG 3 1 0 4
Canada CAN 2 5 9 16
Netherlands NED 2 5 1 8
South Africa RSA 2 0 3 5
Ireland IRL 2 0 0 2
Czechoslovakia TCH 1 3 2 6
Austria AUT 1 1 3 5
India IND 1 0 0 1
Denmark DEN 0 5 3 8
Mexico MEX 0 2 0 2
Latvia LAT 0 1 0 1
New Zealand NZL 0 1 0 1
Switzerland SUI 0 1 0 1
Philippines PHI 0 0 3 3
Belgium BEL 0 0 1 1
Spain ESP 0 0 1 1
Uruguay URU 0 0 1 1

Most successful competitors

Athlete Nat Gold Silver Bronze Total
Romeo Neri ITA 3 0 0 3
Helene Madison USA 3 0 0 3
István Pelle HUN 2 2 0 4
Babe Didrikson USA 2 1 0 3
Xavier Lesage FRA 2 0 0 2
Attilio Pavesi ITA 2 0 0 2
Philippe Cattiau FRA 2 0 0 2
Jean Piot FRA 2 0 0 2
György Piller HUN 2 0 0 2
Savino Guglielmetti ITA 2 0 0 2
Hugh Edwards GBR 2 0 0 2
Yasuji Miyazaki JPN 2 0 0 2
Ivar Johansson SWE 2 0 0 2
Bill Carr USA 2 0 0 2
Eddie Tolan USA 2 0 0 2

All medalists at these Games