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THE GAMES OF THE VIth OLYMPIAD – THE 1916 OLYMPIC GAMES

There were Olympic Games scheduled for 1916, although they would never take place because of World War I.  The 1916 Olympic Games – the Games of the VIth Olympiad – were scheduled for Berlin, Germany.

Berlin had made a bid to host the 1908 Olympic Games but withdrew the bid at the 1904 IOC Session so that the vote for London could be unanimous.  It then moved forward its bid to the 1912 Olympics, and at the 1908 IOC Session in London the two candidate cities for 1912 were considered to be Berlin and Stockholm.  But at the 1909 IOC Session (in Berlin), Berlin announced that it could not host the 1912 Olympic Games and they were awarded to Stockholm.  The 1916 host city was discussed at the 1911 IOC Session but the decision was made at the 1912 Session in Stockholm.  Official bids had been returned from Berlin, Alexandria (EGY), and Budapest (HUN), but Alexandria and Budapest withdrew during the Session and Berlin was elected unanimously as the host city for the Games of the VIth Olympiad.

Germany had long since formed a National Olympic Committee, termed the Deutschen Reichsausschuß für Olympische Spiele (DRAfOS) (Germany Imperial Committee for the Olympic Games).  When the 1916 Olympic Games were awarded to Berlin, it began to develop an Organizing Committee as well.  The final form of the Executive Board of DRAfOS in 1913 was as follows:

Position Holder
Patron: Crownprince Wilhelm von Preußen
President: General Victor von Podbielski
Vice-President: Ulrich von Örtzen
Treasurer: Baron Julius von Hünefeld
1st Secretary: Dr. Paul Martin
2nd Secretary: P. Johannes Müller
Sec-Gen. for the Olympic Games: Kurt Roesler
Sec-Gen. for the 1916 Olympics: Dr. Carl Diem
IOC Members to Germany: Count Adalbert von Francken-Sierstorpff
Baron Karl von Venningen-Ullner von Diepburg

Germany also proceeded with the building of a great stadium to host the Olympic Games.  The design and construction had actually begun in 1911, prior to the bid for the 1916 Olympics being awarded to Berlin.  The stadium contained a 400-metre running track, surrounded by a 600-metre cycle track, with a 100-metre swimming pool at the north end of the stadium.  The stadium seated around 30,000 spectators.  Kaiser Wilhelm II dedicated the stadium on 8 June 1913, in celebration of his 25th anniversary as head of the German Reich.  A number of IOC Members were present at the dedication.  After various demonstrations and exhibitions of athletic events, General von Podbielski gave the closing speech, and urged the 3 million members of German athletic groups to put all their efforts into victory at the 1916 Olympics.

Plans proceded apace for the 1916 Olympic Games and a tentative program and schedule of events was announced.  This is documented in the only modern book fully devoted to the 1916 Olympic Games, Die VI. Olympischen Spiele Berlin 1916, by Prof. Dr. Karl Lennartz of the Carl-Diem-Institute in Köln, Germany.  The tentatively scheduled sports were as follows, and it is notable that the Germans planned to conduct both Summer and Winter Sports:

Summer Sports

Athletics (Track & Field), Cycling, Diving, Fencing, Football (Soccer), Golf, Gymnastics, Hockey (Field), Modern Pentathlon, Rowing, Shooting, Swimming, Tennis, Water Polo, Weightlifting, and Wrestling – Greco-Roman

Winter Sports

Figure Skating, Ice Hockey, Nordic Skiing, and Speed Skating

It is also possible that the Germans tried to organize a cricket tournament, although it did not make it to the final schedule.  In A History of Australian Cricket it was noted, “Another matter which occupied the minds of the delegates was an invitation from the German authorities to send a cricket team to compete in the 1916 Olympic Games which were scheduled to be held in Berlin.”

But the 1916 Olympic Games never came to pass, for fairly obvious reasons.  On 28 June 1914, in the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo, Gavrilo Princip shot and killed Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire.  The incident precipitated the war, and in July 1914, Austro-Hungary declared war on Serbia.  Germany soon joined with the Hapsburg Empire and declared war on Russia and France a few days later.  In August, Germany invaded Belgium and Great Britain then entered the war against Germany.

Incredibly, the Germans continued to make plans to host the 1916 Olympic Games, though they were met with opposition within the IOC as well.  British IOC Member Theodore Andrea Cook demanded the expulsion of the German members from the IOC.  When this was refused, Cook resigned from the IOC in protest.

Coubertin discussed these entreaties in Memoires Olympiques, “… barely two weeks had passed since the invasion of Belgium when I received proposals for ‘transferring’ the Games – at first somewhat vague plans but soon made more precise by a favourable move on the part of [James Edward] Sullivan, who had been one of the pillars of the recent Congress and whose loyalty now proved unshakeable.  He asked for instructions.  We could not hesitate.  An Olympiad may fail to be celebrated; its number remains.  This is the ancient tradition.  The Germans, who at that time believed in a rapid war and a sure victory, did not ask to be relieved of the Olympic mandate.  To make a move in favour of the United States or Scandinavia would have been to take a step whose outcome would have been difficult to foresee and to risk subsequent cracks in Olympic unity, without any advantage for anyone.  I therefore rejected any kind of action of this sort.”

The exact date when it was decided not to hold the 1916 Olympic Games has not been published in any available source.  But as late as mid-1915 the Germans were still making plans for the Olympics.  In March 1915, the DRAfOS reported to the IOC on its preparations, noting that “only nations allied with Germany and neutral countries would be invited.”

It was fortunate, given that ultimatum, that the Olympic Movement would wait until 1920 and Antwerp.

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The above was modified from Appendix 4 from my book on the 1920 Olympic Games (with Tony Bijkerk) – The 1920 Olympic Games:  Results for All Competitors in All Events, with Commentary. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland, 2001.

1896-1912 OLYMPIANS AND WORLD WAR I

The following was Appendix 2 from my book on the 1920 Olympics (Jefferson, NC: McFarland Press, 1999). Seems very appropriate to reprint here on this weekend.

Slightly more than 6,000 athletes competed in the Olympic Games from 1896 to 1912.  They represented the “Youth of the World,” our best and brightest, most of them in the primes of their lives.  But when war broke out in 1914, the Olympians often represented those best able to serve their nations as soldiers.  Many of them did fight in World War I, but not all of them returned.  On the morning of the Opening Ceremony, 14 August 1920, Cardinal Mercier, gave a Te Deum mass in honor of the Olympian War dead.  Following are some of those poignant tales.

Canadian physician, soldier, and poet John McCrae published this famous poem in 1915 about the Allied dead buried in Belgium.

In Flanders Fields

John McCrae (1872-1918)

In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

 

We are the Dead.  Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie

In Flanders fields

 

Take up our quarrel with the foe;

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.

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In 1904, Arthur Wear played tennis at the St. Louis Olympics, winning a bronze medal in the men’s doubles.

In the September 2000 issue of the Journal of Olympic History, June Wuest Becht wrote the following letter to the editor:

When I was growing up in St. Louis, my Father took me to Jefferson Memorial once a year to see the names of his fallen friends from WWI chiseled on the wall.  The Memorial was built with money left after St. Louis’ World’s Fair and Games of the Third Olympiad expenses were paid.

Listed with the dead for the 89th Division, 356th Infantry, is the name “Arthur Wear.”

My father had been a sergeant in the 89th Division, 354th Infantry and knew Captain Wear, an Olympian, who won a bronze medal in the tennis doubles competition with Clarence Gamble here in 1904.

Before my Father’s death in 1980, he gave me his history of the 89th Division, 1917, 1918, and 1919 (a part of the AEF and Army of Occupation).  He was with the Division for the entire time it was on duty on the USA, France, Belgium and Germany.

There I discovered an account of Captain Wear’s death which has never been published (p. 205).

“Trying to cross the Meuse near Pouilly on November 5, 1918.  The crossing could not be made at that time.

“Captain Wear had recently been discharged from the hospital and was weak and nervous.  His command had been through severe fighting and had had an exhausting march beginning in the early morning.  Evidently his mind gave way under the strain of the events and of his depleted physical condition.  He ordered his battalion to withdraw from its position along the railroad tracks and bank of the canal to a position in the woods above the town; he sent word to “Take command of the battalion” then going a little aside from his headquarters in the dismal woods, at about 3 o’clock in the morning (November 6) he ended his life by shooting himself in the head.  This was one of those tragedies of the war indicative of the frightful strain of the times.  Captain Wear’s abilities and courage had been tested in previous fighting and had given promise of a glorious career as a soldier.  As a result of his over-zeal in coming back to hard field service before he was physically fit, the Division lost one of its promising officers.”

The Armistice was signed on November 11, 1918, just days after Captain Wear’s death.

His name appears in memory as a soldier not far from the tennis venue where he competed in the Olympic Games of 1904.

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In 1908, Wyndham Halswelle won the 400 metre race in one of the most controversial finishes in Olympic history.  In the original race, he was obstructed by John Carpenter of the United States and the race was ordered re-run, with Carpenter disqualified.  But the American team protested and did not feel Carpenter was at fault.  In protest, the other two finalists, both Americans, refused to run in the re-start and Halswelle walked over to win the gold medal.  Ian Buchanan wrote of him in British Olympians, “Wyndham Halswelle was a career Army officer, who tragically died from a sniper’s bullet in France while fighting World War I.”

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Octave Lapize competed in the 1908 Olympic Games as a cyclist, and won a bronze medal in the 100 kilometre track race.  He likely then became the greatest professional cyclist among former Olympians in the pre-War years.  Lapize won the Tour de France in 1910, Paris-Brussels 1911-1913, and Paris-Tours 1911, and is still the only person to have won Paris-Roubaix in three consecutive years – 1909-11.  A pilot in the French military, he was killed in a dogfight during World War I.

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Though Percival Molson failed to place in the 1904 400 metres, he would achieve his fame later, but it would cost him his life.  Molson, the great-grandson of John Molson, founder of Molson Breweries of Canada, attended McGill, from which he graduated in 1900, after serving as president of his senior class and gaining every athletic honor the university could offer.  When World War I broke out, he joined the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, and fought for them at the Battle of Mount Sorrel in 1916.  He was wounded during the battle and returned home, receiving the Military Cross for his efforts.  He insisted he be allowed to rejoin the company and on 5 July 1917, while fighting on the outskirts of Avion, France, he was hit by mortar fire while attempting to rescue a fallen friend.  Both were killed.  In his honor, the main athletic stadium at McGill University is known as the Percival Molson Memorial Stadium.

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With Rue My Heart is Laden

from A Shropshire Lad

A[lfred] E[dward] Housman (1859-1936)

 

With rue my heart is laden

For golden friends I had,

For many a rose-lipt maiden

And many a lightfoot lad.

 

By brooks too broad for leaping

The lightfoot boys are laid;

The rose-lipt girls are sleeping

In fields where roses fade.

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In 1912, the New Zealander, Tony Wilding, won a bronze medal in the men’s covered courts tennis singles.  It was a minor highlight of the career of the man who may still be considered New Zealand’s greatest ever tennis player.  Anthony Wilding attended Trinity College, Cambridge, and based himself in England.  He was Australian champion in 1907, Victorian champion in 1908-09, and won the singles at Wimbledon for four straight years, 1910-13.  He fought for the English during World War I and was killed by shellfire on the Western Front while serving as a captain in the Royal Marines.

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At the 1912 Olympic Games, athletics fans thrilled to the feats of Hannes Kolehmainen, who won the 5,000 metres, the 10,000 metres, and the cross-country.  But Kolehmainen’s greatest race was the 5,000 metres, where Frenchman Jean Bouin pushed him to his limit, with both breaking the world record, Kolehmainen finishing inches ahead of Boyin.  Jean Bouin became a foot soldier during World War I.  On 29 September 1914, Bouin was killed by an artillery shell that hit him squarely in the chest.  It was felt to be friendly fire.

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Where Have All the Flowers Gone?

Pete Seeger (1919- 2014)

Where have all the flowers gone, long time passing?

Where have all the flowers gone, long time ago?

Where have all the flowers gone?

Gone to young girls, every one!

When will they ever learn, when will they ever learn?

 

Where have all the young girls gone, long time passing?

Where have all the young girls gone, long time ago?

Where have all the young girls gone?

Gone to young men, every one!

When will they ever learn, when will they ever learn?

 

Where have all the young men gone, long time passing?

Where have all the young men gone, long time ago?

Where have all the young men gone?

Gone to soldiers, every one!

When will they ever learn, when will they ever learn?

 

And where have all the soldiers gone, long time passing?

Where have all the soldiers gone, a long time ago?

Where have all the soldiers gone?

Gone to graveyards, every one!

When will they ever learn, when will they ever learn?

 

And where have all the graveyards gone, long time passing?

Where have all the graveyards gone, long time ago?

Where have all the graveyards gone?

Gone to flowers, every one!

When will they ever learn, oh when will they ever learn?

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In his book Who’s Who of UK & GB International Athletes 1896-1939, British Olympic historian Ian Buchanan noted the following British track & field Olympians who made the final sacrifice during World War I.

Anderson, Gerard           (ATH-1912) (*15 Mar 1889 – †09 Nov 1914)  Killed in action 9 Nov 1914 while serving with the Cheshire Regiment.

Anderson, William (ATH-1906)  (†4.1915)  Killed in action April 1915 while serving as a private with the Canadian contingent.

Ashington, Henry           (ATH-1912) (*25 Sep 1891 – †31 Jan 1917)  Killed in action  while serving with the East Yorkshire Regiment.

Astley, Arthur  (ATH-1908)  (†1916)   Killed in action.

Butterfield, George  (ATH-1908)  (*1882 – †17 Oct 1917)  Killed in action while serving as a gunner with the Royal Field Artillery.

Chavasse, Noël  (ATH-1908)  (*9 Nov 1884 – †04 Aug 1917)  one of only three men to have been awarded a bar to the Victoria Cross.  Served as a captain in the RAMC he was first awarded the VC in 1916 and awarded the bar, posthumously, in 1917.  Killed in action Brandhoek, Ypres, France.

Flaxman, Alfred  (ATH-1908)  (*1 Oct 1879 – †01 Jul 1916)  Killed in action in an attack on the enemy positions at Gommercourt, France.

Hawkins, George  (ATH-1908)  (*13 Oct 1883 – †22 Sep 1917)  Served as a gunner in the Royal Artillery.  Killed in action when a shell exploded in the doorway of a dugout while he was on outpost duty.

Hutson, George  (ATH-1912)  (*22 Dec 1889 – †14 Sep 1914)  Killed in action as a regular soldier with the Royal Sussex Regiment.

Kitching, Frederick  (ATH-1908)  (*7 Jul 1886 – †1914)  Killed in action in Dunkirk, France.

Leeke, Henry     GBR ATH-1908 15 Nov 1879 29 May 1915)  Killed in action in France on the eve of his battalion’s departure for Gallipoli.  Served with the Royal Warwickshire Regiment.

Macintosh, Henry  (ATH-1912)  (*10 Jun 1892 – †26 Jul 1918)  Commissioned into the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders and was killed in action on the Somme.

Patterson, Alan  (ATH-1908/12)  (*12 Mar 1886 – †4 Mar 1916)  Killed in action in France.

Roche, James  (ATH-1908)  (*1886 – †07 Jun 1917)  Served as a lieutenant with the Royal Engineers and won an MC in WWI, before being killed in action in France.

Wilson, Harold  (ATH-1908)  (*22 Jan 1885 – †1916)  Killed in action in France.

Yorke, Richard  (ATH-1908/12)  (*28 Jul 1885 – †22 Dec 1914)  Killed in action in France while serving as a sergeant in the London Scottish.

Buchanan also sent a clipping concerning Charles Rought  (GBR; ROW-1912) who died on 31 January 1918.  It noted, “The unluckiest of all, however, was probably Charles Rought.  A prisoner of war almost from the beginning, he died after eating a bad oyster while waiting to be demobilized after his release, and so technically his death occurred while on active service.  Requiescant in Pace.

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There were certainly many others, but many of their stories have never been told.  In his excellent series of books entitled Olympische Sommerspiele, Volker Kluge lists the Olympic athletes who died in World War I.  In addition to Kluge’s lists, Ian Buchanan has done research on the British athletes who died in World War I.  The following list combines the research of these two prominent Olympic historians.  Listed after the name are the nation, the Olympic sport and year of competing in the Olympics, followed by the dates of birth and death.

Alexander, Gordon  (GBR; FEN-1912)  (*1888 – †24 Apr 1917)

Aho, Paavo  (FIN; ATH-1912)  (*21 Dec 1891 – †04 Mar 1918)

Alibert, Gaston  (FRA; FEN-1908)  (*1883 – †26 Dec 1917)

Almqvist, Anders  (SWE; ROW-1912)  (*1885 – †30 Nov 1915)

Bartholomae, Fritz  (GER; ROW-1912)  (*29 Oct 1886 – †1915)

Békessy, Béla  (HUN; FEN-1912)  (*16 Nov 1875 – †06 Jul 1916)

Bellin du Coteau, Marc  (FRA; ATH-1906)  (*1883 – †1915)

Bentham, Isaac  (GBR; WAP-1912)  (*27 Oct 1886 – †ca1914-18)

Bieberstein, Arno  (GER; SWI-1908)  (*17 Oct 1886 – †04 Oct 1918)

Bouin, Jean (FRA; ATH-1912)  (*21 Dec 1888 – †29 Sep 1914)

Braathe, Julius  (NOR; SHO-1906/12)  (*4 May 1876 – †08 Jul 1914)

Braun, Hanns  (GER; ATH-1912)  (*26 Oct 1886 – †09 Oct 1918)

Brebner, Ronald  (GBR; FTB-1912)  (*23 Sep 1882 – †11 Nov 1914)

Bretting, Kurt  (GER; SWI-1912)  (*8 Jun 1892 – †30 May 1918)

Burkowitz, Hermann  (GER; ATH-1912)  (*31 Jan 1892 – †11.1914)

Burn, Thomas  (GBR; FTB-1912)  (*1888 – †1916)

Bury, Edmund  (GBR; RAQ-1908)  (*4 Nov 1884 – †04 Dec 1915)

Carver, Oswald  (GBR; ROW-1908)  (*2 Feb 1887 – †07 Jun 1915)

Caulle, Joseph  (FRA; ATH-1912)  (*3 May 1885 – †ca1914-18)

Chaffe, Walter  (GBR; TOW-1912)  (*2 Apr 1870 – †22 Apr 1918)

Chalmers, Ralph  (GBR; FEN-1908)  (*13 Jan 1891 – †10 May 1915)

Coles, Geoffrey  (GBR; SHO-1908)  (*13 Mar 1871 – †27 Jan 1916)

Cooper, Robert  (GBR; GYM-1906)  (†Mar 1918)

Crank, Harry  (GBR; DIV-1908)  (*1885 – †23 Oct 1917)

Crowther, Herbert  (GBR; CYC-1906/08)  (*1882 – †1916)

Cumming, Arthur  (GBR; FSK-1908)  (*8 May 1889 – †08 May 1914)

Davies, Robert  (GBR; SHO-1912)  (*10 Dec 1876 – †09 Sep 1916)

Dines, Joseph  (GBR; FTB-1912)  (*12 Apr 1886 – †27 Sep 1918)

Donners, Herman  (BEL; WAP-1908/12)  (*5 Aug 1888 – †1915)

Drescher, Ludwig  (DEN; FTB-1908)  (*21 Jul 1881 – †14 Jul 1917)

Duffy, Edward  (RSA; ATH-1908)  (*6 Jun 1883 – †19 Oct 1918)

Duffy, James  (CAM; ATH-1912)  (*1 May 1890 – †23 Apr 1915)

Erickson, Charles  (USA; WRE-1904)  (*1875 – †23 Feb 1916)

Escombe, Lionel  (GBR; TEN-1908)  (*1875 – †15 Oct 1914)

Fairbairn, George  (GBR; ROW-1908)  (*18 Aug 1888 – †20 Jun 1915)

Flameng, Leon  (FRA; CYC-1896)  (*1877 – †1917)

Fogelmark, Ragnar  (SWE; WRE-1912)  (*15 Mar 1888 – †20 Sep 1914)

Fóti, Samu  (HUN; ATH-1912)  (*6 Nov 1884 – †17 Jun 1916)

Gillespie, Thomas  (GBR; ROW-1912)  (*14 Dec 1892 – †18 Oct 1914)

Goldsmith, Henry  (GBR; ROW-1908)  (*22 Jul 1885 – †09 May 1915)

Gönczy, Lajos  (HUN; ATH-1900)  (*24 Feb 1881 – †1914)

Goßler, Carl  (GER; ROW-1900)  (*17 Apr 1885 – †09 Sep 1914)

Grantz, Gunnar  (NOR; ROW-1912)  (*27 Jan 1885 – †1916)

Haagensen, Karl Johan  (NOR; GYM-1906)  (*26 Mar 1871 – †25 Aug 1918)

Halme, Juho  (FIN; ATH-1908/12)  (*24 May 1888 – †01 Feb 1918)

Healy, Cecil  (AUS; SWI-1912)  (*28 Nov 1881 – †29 Aug 1918)

Herrmann, Max  (GER; ATH-1912)  (*17 Mar 1885 – †29 Jan 1915)

Hestdahl, Mikael  (NOR; WRE-1912)  (*13 Nov 1890 – †11 Nov 1918)

Hoben, John  (USA; ROW-1904)  (*1884 – †06 Jul 1915)

Irgens, Emil  (NOR; ROW-1908)  (*2 Aug 1883 – †13 Jul 1918)

January, John  (USA; FTB-1904)  (*6 Mar 1882 – †01 Dec 1917)

Jesinghaus, Walter  (GER; GYM-1912)  (*10 Oct 1887 – †1918)

Johnstone, Albert  (RSA; SHO-1912)  (*7 Sep 1878 – †23 Jul 1918)

Kenna, Paul  (GBR; EQU-1912)  (*16 Aug 1862 – †30 Aug 1915)

Kolehmainen, David “Tatu”  (FIN; WRE-1912)  (*10 Sep 1885 – †1918)

Laing, Ivan  (GBR; HOK-1908)  (*18 Aug 1885 – †30 Nov 1917)

Larsen, Edvard  (NOR; ATH-1908/12)  (*27 Oct 1881 – †11 Sep 1914)

Laws, Gilbert  (GBR; SAI-1908)  (*6 Jan 1870 – †03 Dec 1918)

Legat, Manlio  (ITA; ATH-1912)  (*30 Aug 1889 – †18 Sep 1915)

Lehmann, Erich  (GER; ATH-1912)  (*12 Sep 1890 – †ca1914-18)

Leiblee, Clark  (USA; ATH-1900)  (*2 Nov 1877 – †20 Aug 1917)

Lindh, Erik  (FIN; SAI-1912)  (*1 May 1865 – †01 Dec 1914)

Lönnberg, Ivan  (SWE; ATH-1912)  (*12 Nov 1891 – †26 Apr 1918)

Lützow, Wilhelm  (GER; SWI-1912)  (*19 May 1892 – †1917)

Mackinnon, Duncan  (GBR; ROW-1908)  (*29 Sep 1887 – †09 Oct 1917)

Maclagan, Gilchrist  (GBR; ROW-1908)  (*5 Oct 1879 – †25 Apr 1915)

Mannström, Bror  (SWE; MOP-1912)  (*26 Oct 1884 – †19 Jul 1916)

Martens, Hermann  (GER; CYC-1908)  (*16 Apr 1877 – †1916)

Mickler, Alfred Georg  (GER; ATH-1912)  (*7 Sep 1892 – †14 Jun 1915)

Molinié, Henri  (FRA; ATH-1906)  (*1874 – †1918)

Mudin, Imre  (HUN; ATH-1908/12)  (*8 Nov 1887 – †23 Oct 1918)

Mudin, István  (HUN; ATH-1906/08)  (*16 Oct 1881 – †22 Jul 1918)

Nejedlÿ, ArnoWt  (BOH; ATH-1906)  (*1883 – †1917)

Nerali¢, Milan  (AUT; FEN-1900)  (*26 Feb 1875 – †17 Feb 1918)

Nilsson, Calle  (SWE; ATH-1912)  (*18 May 1888 – †23 Jun 1915)

Odberg, Frank  (BEL; ROW-1900)  (†1917)

Ommundsen, Harcourt  (GBR; SHO-1908/12)  (*23 Nov 1878 – †1915)

Pedersen, Oluf  (DEN; GYM-1906/12)  (*14 Mar 1878 – †08 Mar 1917)

Pédery, Ärpád  (HUN; GYM-1912)  (*1 Feb 1891 – †21 Oct 1914)

Person, Julius  (GER; ATH-1912)  (*1 May 1889 – †ca1914-18)

Persson, Martin  (SWE; ATH-1912)  (*13 Oct 1886 – †13 Feb 1918)

Petersdorff, Herbert von  (GER; WAP-1900)  (*2 Jan 1882 – †1917)

Pohl-Polenskÿ, Bohuslav  (BOH; ATH-1906)  (*1881 – †1916)

Powell, Kenneth  (GBR; TEN-1912)  (*8 Apr 1885 – †18 Feb 1915)

Pridmore, Reginald  (GBR; HOK-1908)  (*29 Apr 1886 – †13 Mar 1918)

Robinson, John  (GBR; HOK-1908)  (*6 Aug 1885 – †23 Aug 1916)

Romano, Guido  (ITA; GYM-1908/12)  (*31 Jan 1887 – †18 Jun 1916)

Rowland, Arthur  (NZL; ATH-1908)  (*26 Oct 1885 – †23 Jul 1918)

Salmon, Gaston  (FRA; FEN-1912)  (*1878 – †1917)

Salomez, Maurice  (FRA; ATH-1900)  (†1916)

Sanderson, Ronald  (GBR; ROW-1908)  (*11 Dec 1876 – †17 Apr 1918)

Schneidereit, Heinrich  (GER; WLT-1906)  (*23 Dec 1884 – †30 Sep 1915)

Soalhat, Michel  (FRA; ATH-1906)  (*1874 – †25 Sep 1915)

Somers-Smith, John  (GBR; ROW-1908)  (*15 Dec 1887 – †01 Jul 1916)

Spiedl, Zoltán  (HUN; ATH-1900)  (*17 Mar 1880 – †03 Jul 1917)

Spitzer, Roger  (USA; ATH-1908)  (*21 Sep 1885 – †20 Mar 1916)

Steuernagel, Curt  (GER; GYM-1908)  (*1886 – †30 Jul 1918)

Sztantics, György  (HUN; ATH-1906)  (*19 Aug 1878 – †09 Jul 1918)

Tietgens, Waldemar  (GER; ROW-1900)  (*26 Mar 1879 – †28 Jul 1917)

Tsiklitaras, Konstantin  (GRE; ATH-1912)  (*1888 – †1913)

Vigurs, Charles  (GBR; GYM-1908/12)  (*11 Jul 1888 – †22 Feb 1917)

Viljamaa, Kalle  (FIN; WRE-1912)  (*15 Feb 1885 – †28 Mar 1918)

von Blixen-Finecke, Hans Gustaf, Sr.  (SWE; EQU-1912)  (*25 Jul 1886 – †26 Sep 1917)

von Gaza, Bernhard  (GER; ROW-1908)  (*6 May 1881 – †25 Sep 1917)

von Las-Torres, Béla  (HUN; SWI-1908)  (*20 Apr 1890 – †13 Oct 1915)

von Lütcken, Eduard  (GER; EQU-1912)  (*26 Oct 1882 – †15 Sep 1914)

von Preußen, Friedrich Karl, Prince  (GER; EQU-1912)  (*6 Apr 1893 – †1917)

Vosbergen, Ary  (NED; ATH-1908)  (*10 Jun 1882 – †14 Nov 1918)

Watzl, Rudolf  (AUT; WRE-1906)  (*14 Apr 1882 – †15 Aug 1915)

Whittindale, Raymond  (GBR; RUG-1900)  (*1883 – †09 Apr 1915)

Wilde, Arthur  (GBR; SHO-1908)  (†1916)

Wilhelm, Richard  (GER; ATH-1908)  (*1888 – †1917)

Willems, Victor  (BEL; FEN-1912)  (*1877 – †1918)

Wilson, Arthur  (GBR; RUG-1908)  (*29 Dec 1886 – †01 Jul 1917)

Wilson, Herbert  (GBR; POL-1908)  (*14 Feb 1875 – †11 Apr 1917)

Zulavszky, Béla  (HUN; FEN-1908/12)  (*23 Oct 1869 – †24 Oct 1914)

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To An Athlete Dying Young

A[lfred] E[dward] Housman (1859-1936)

from A Shropshire Lad

 

The time you won town your race,

We chaired your through the marketplace.

Man and boy stood cheering by,

And home we brought you shoulder high.

 

Today the road all runners come,

Shoulder high we bring you home

And set you at your threshold down,

Townsman of a stiller town.

 

Smart lad to slip betimes away

From fields where glory does not stay.

For quickly though the laurel grows,

It withers quicker than a rose.

 

Eyes the shady night has shut

Cannot see the record cut.

And silence sounds no worse than cheers,

After earth has stopped the ears.

 

Now you will not swell the rout,

Of lads who wore their honors out.

Runners whom renown outran,

And the name died before the man.

 

So set before the echoes fade,

That fleet foot on the sill of shade,

And hold to that low lintel up,

The still defended challenge cup.

 

And round that early laureled head

Will flock to gaze the strengthless dead,

And find untarnished the its curls,

A garland briefer than a girls.

The 1919 Inter-Allied Games

In 1919, a prelude to the 1920 Olympic Games took place on the outskirts of Paris.  These were the 1919 Inter-Allied Games and they had their origins in 1910 in the Philippine Islands.  In that year, Elwood S. Brown was sent to the Philippines as the Physical Director of the American YMCA (Young Men’s Christian Association).  His charge was to build up sporting activities among the American civilian population and eventually the Filipino natives.  Brown was successful and was also instrumental in helping convince the Filipinos to compete in the first Far Eastern Games in 1919.  Through Brown’s efforts, sports became much more popular in the Far East.

In April 1918, Elwood Brown requested war service and was shipped to France as one of the YMCA athletic directors.  As the war neared an end, Brown sought a way to bring the soldiers of the many nations “together in order that they might know each other face to face and thus lay the foundations for those enduring friendships which can come only from personal contact and which, in this case, were of such fundamental importance to the future welfare of the world.”

In October 1918, Elwood Brown sent a letter to Colonel Bruce Palmer, the First Section of the General Staff, G.H.Q., A.E.F., whose subject was “Proposed Athletic Program for Demobilization Period.”  Brown made four suggestions in his letter, as follows:

  1. Great mass games and play for every possible man – “Athletics for everybody.”
  2. Official A.E.F. championships in a wide variety of competitive sports including military events, beginning with elimination regimental contests, ranging upwards through the divisions, possibly the army corps, and culminating in great finals in Paris.
  3. Physical pageants and demonstrations to be held in many centers demonstrating to our allied friends America’s best in sport, her great play spirit and incidentally her finest in physical manhood.
  4. Interallied athletic contests – open only to soldiers of the Allied Armies – a great set of military Olympic Games.

And thus was born the Inter-Allied Games.  They were truly considered a military Olympic Games.  The only requirement for entry was that all competitors had to have been an officer or an enlisted man in one of the Allied military forces.  The entry asked, “Were you a soldier in the Great War?”  The eligibility rules noted that “Each nation participating may enter any officer, non-commissioned officer or private soldier, who has at any time between 4 August 1914 and 11 November 1918 been a member of the military forces of that nation.”

The invitation to nations was sent on 9 January 1919 by General John J. Pershing, the Commander-in-Chief of the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF).  The letter read as follows:

AMERICAN EXPEDITIONARY FORCES

Office of the Commander In Chief

January 10, 1919

Sir:

The officers and men of the American Expeditionary Forces, being keenly appreciative of the splendid relations which exist among those who have borne arms in a great, common cause, and which, in the present instance, have so happily developed into such deep feelings of mutual respect and admiration, are most anxious to preserve and strengthen this relationship in every way possible.

Now that active military operations have ceased, they believe that nothing could be more conducive to this end than to gather in friendly competition on the field of sport, representatives of the Armies of each of the nations which have so long been associated together in the stern struggle for right.

Accordingly, they have decided to organize an Inter-Allied Athletic Meeting, to be held in the Colombes Stadium, Paris, during the month of May or June, 1919, in which the officers and men of all of these Armies shall be eligible to take part.

As Commander-in-Chief of the American Expeditionary Forces, I have the honor, therefore, to invite, through you as their Commander-in-Chief, the officers and men of the armies of France to participate in these contests and to express the earnest hope that many of them may do so, so that the ties of the much cherished spirit of comradeship which have spring from the gallant joint effort of our forces on the battlefield may thus be even more closely cemented.

Respectfully,

JOHN J. PERSHING

Twenty-nine Allied nations were invited to compete in Paris.  The invited nations were:

Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Cuba, Czechoslovakia, France, Great Britain, Greece, Guatemala, Haiti, Hedjaz, Honduras, Italy, Japan, Liberia, Montenegro, Nicaragua, Newfoundland, New Zealand, Panama, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Siam, and South Africa.

Hedjaz was a Kingdom on the Arabian Peninsula that later became a part of Saudi Arabia.

Of these, eventually eighteen nations competed at the Inter-Allied Games.

Australia, Belgium, British Army of the Rhine, Canada, Czechoslovakia, France, Great Britain, Greece, Guatemala, Hedjaz, Italy, Newfoundland, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, and United States.

A Games Committee was formed, which consisted of five members:

Col. Wait S. Johnson, G.S., Lt. Col. D. M. Goodrich, G.S., Lt. Col. T. C. Lonergan, G.S., Mr. Elwood S. Brown, YMCA, Mr. W. A. Reynolds, YMCA

The Games Committee planned the following program:

Baseball, Basketball, Boxing, Equestrian Competition, Fencing, Football (Association/Soccer), Football, Rugby, Football, American, Golf – individual and team, Rowing, Shooting, Swimming, Tennis, Track & Field Athletics, Tug-of-War, Water Polo, Wrestling – Catch-as-Catch Can, and Wrestling – Greco-Roman,

Eventually, not all of the scheduled events were held.  Notably, there was no American football competition.  A few events were also added to the above program.

The Inter-Allied Games took place at the Pershing Stadium, which was situated near Paris.  It was on the eastern edge of the Bois de Vincennes on the ancient highway between Vincennes and Joinville-le-Pont.  Originally the Games were to have been held in the Colombes Stadium in Paris, where the 1924 Olympic Games would take place.  But the Colombes Stadium was felt to favor the American athletes unfairly and it was not used as the main venue.  Instead, it was decided to build a new stadium, which became the Pershing Stadium.  Incredibly the construction began only on 11 April 1919 and was completed within 60 days.  The stadium seated 25,000 spectators.

The Inter-Allied Games began on 22 June 1919, with an Opening Ceremony in the Stadium.  They were formally opened by Monsieur Leygues, the French Minister of the Navy.  The Games lasted for exactly two weeks, ending on 6 July 1919.  While most of the events took place in the Pershing Stadium, there were other venues used as well.

Swimming took place in the St. James Lake in the Bois de Boulogne in Paris.  The equestrian competition was held at Chennevières.  The fencing was conducted at the École d’Éscrime in Joinville.  Rugby football took place at Colombes Field in Paris.  The golf matches were held on the La Boulie Course on the outskirts of Paris.  Tennis competition occurred at the Racing Club de Paris and Stade Français de Paris.  Shooting was conducted far removed from Paris, at the d’Auvours range near Le Mans.

The 1919 Inter-Allied Games ended on Sunday, 6 July.  Two events were held that day – a baseball game between the United States and Canada, and the light-heavyweight boxing final.  The baseball game was ended prematurely, with the United States leading 12-1.  Canada agreed to stop the game to allow the Closing Ceremony to take place in the Pershing Stadium.  General Pershing presided and received all the champions in the Tribune d’Honneur, awarding them their prizes.  The Ceremony ended with the formal lowering the flags of the Allied Nations.

The champions of the 1919 Inter-Allied Games were as follows:

Baseball USA
Basketball USA
Boxing
Bantamweight Pvt. Albert Evans AUS
Featherweight Louis De Ponthieu FRA
Lightweight Bennie McNeil USA
Welterweight Sgt. Joe Attwood CAN
Middleweight Edward Eagan USA
Light-Heavyweight Sgt. Ermino Spalla ITA
Heavyweight Bob Martin USA
Equestrian Events
Military Riding – Individual Maj. Joseph De Soras FRA
Military Riding – Team France
Show Jumping – Individual Maj. Ruggero Ubertalli ITA
Show Jumping – Pairs Maj. Giacomo Antonelli/Capt. Alessandro Alvisi ITA
Fencing
Foil Individual Lt. Nedo Nadi ITA
Foil Team FRA
Épée Individual Sgt. E. Henri Laurent FRA
Épée Team FRA
Sabre Individual NCO Vincent Gillens BEL
Sabre Team ITA
Football/Soccer TCH
Football Rugby FRA
Golf Individual Arnaud Massy FRA
Golf Team FRA
Rowing
Single Sculls Sgt. Clarence d’Arcy Hadfield NZL
Coxed Fours FRA
Coxed Eight GBR
Shooting
Military Rifle Individual 1st Sgt. Stanley Smith USA
Military Rifle Team USA
Pistol Shooting Individual Master Sgt. Michael Kelley USA
Pistol Shooting Team USA
Swimming
100 metre freestyle 2nd Lt. Norman Ross USA
400 metre freestyle 2nd Lt. Norman Ross USA
800 metre freestyle 2nd Lt. Norman Ross USA
1500 metre freestyle 2nd Lt. Norman Ross USA
100 metre backstroke 2nd Lt. Norman Ross USA
200 metre breaststroke H. Sommer FRA
4 x 200 metre freestyle relay AUS
Tennis Singles Lt. André Gobert FRA
Tennis Doubles Capt. Pat O'Hara-Wood/Bombdr. Randolph Lycett AUS
Tennis Team AUS
Track & Field Athletics
100 metres 2nd Lt. Charles Paddock USA
200 metres 2nd Lt. Charles Paddock USA
400 metres 1st Lt. Earl Eby USA
800 metres Sgt. Daniel Mason NZL
1500 metres 2nd Lt. Clyde Stout USA
Modified Marathon Pvt. Jean Vermeulen FRA
110 metre hurdles 1st Lt. Robert Simpson USA
200 metre hurdles 1st Lt. Robert Simpson USA
4 x 200 metre relay USA
4 x 400 metre relay USA
Medley relay USA
High Jump Lt. Clint Larson USA
Pole Vault 2nd Lt. Florin Floyd USA
Long Jump Pvt. Sol Butler USA
Standing Long Jump 2nd Lt. William Taylor USA
Triple Jump 1st Lt. Herbert Prem USA
Shot Put 2nd Lt. Edward Caughey USA
Discus Throw Sgt. Charles Higgins USA
Javelin Throw 2nd Lt. George Bronder USA
Pentathlon Cpl. Robert LeGendre USA
Cross-Country Individual Pvt. Jean Vermeulen FRA
Hand-Grenade Throwing Chaplain Fred Thompson USA
800 metre relay Armies of Occupation FRA
Long Jump Armies of Occupation Capt. John Madden USA
Tug-of-War USA
Water Polo BEL
Wrestling – Catch-as-Catch Can
Bantamweight Frank Slinger USA
Featherweight Carl Lilejahault USA
Lightweight George Metropolis USA
Welterweight Cal Farley USA
Middleweight William Prehm USA
Light-Heavyweight Ralph Parcault USA
Heavyweight Chevalier ….. Salvator FRA
Wrestling – Greco-Roman
Bantamweight ….. Wiseman USA
Featherweight Henri Diereckx BEL
Lightweight Cpl. Joseph Beranek TCH
Welterweight Pvt. Karel Halik TCH
Middleweight Pvt. Louis Van Antwerpen BEL
Light-Heavyweight Sgt. Maj. Frant Kopriva SRB
Heavyweight Mstr. Gunner François Bechard FRA

This post was modified from an Appendix to my book on the 1920 Olympic Games: The 1920 Olympic Games:  Results for All Competitors in All Events, with Commentary. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland, 2001.

Olympians Who Died in WWI – RIP

World War I ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, 100 years ago. On our website www.olympedia.org, we provide lists of all Olympians who died during wars. Sadly, there are over 625 Olympians on that list.

Many of the 1896-1912 Olympians fought in the “Great War.” We list here all those we know of who met their demise as the result of World War I. Requiescat in pace

Embed from Getty Images
Tony Wilding, killed at Aubers Ridge during the Battle of Neuve-Chapelle.

Embed from Getty Images

Athlete Nation Sport(s) Era Notes
Andrey Akimov RUS FTB 1912 †1916. Killed during World War I.
Gordon Alexander GBR FEN 1912 †24 April 1917. Killed in action during World War I.
Laurie Anderson GBR ATH 1912 †9 November 1914. Killed in action while serving with the Cheshire Regiment.
William Anderson GBR ATH 1906 †April 1915. Killed in action France.
Henry Ashington GBR ATH 1912 †31 January 1917. Killed in action France.
Louis Bach FRA FTB 1900 †16 September 1914. Killed in action.
Fritz Bartholomae GER ROW 1912 †12 September 1915. Killed in action during World War I.
Georg Baumann RUS WRE 1912 Missing-in-action during World War I but date and place not known.
Béla Békessy HUN FEN 1912 †6 July 1916. Killed in action during World War I.
Isaac Bentham GBR SWI/WAP 1912 †15 May 1917. Killed in action during Battle of Arras.
Renon Boissière FRA ATH 1912 †25 September 1915. Killed in action in World War I.
Henri Bonnefoy FRA SHO 1908 †9 August 1914. Killed in action during World War II.
Hermann von Bönninghausen GER ATH 1908-12 †26 January 1919. Died from wounds from being shot in the face in World War I.
Hermann Bosch GER FTB 1912 †16 July 1916. Killed in action in World War I.
Jean Bouin FRA ATH 1908-12 †29 September 1914. Killed in action by friendly fire.
Hanns Braun GER ATH 1908-12 †9 October 1918. Died as a fighter pilot near Saint-Quentin Aisne France in World War I.
Karl Braunsteiner AUT FTB 1912 †19 April 1916. Died as a prisoner of war.
Kurt Bretting GER SWI 1912 †30 May 1918. Killed in action during World War I.
Wilhelm Brülle GER GYM 1912 †5 August 1917. Killed in action during World War I.
Heinrich Burkowitz GER ATH 1912 †November 1918. Missing in action in November 1918 somewhere in Belgium.
Edmond Bury GBR RAQ 1908 †5 December 1915. With the 11th Battalion King's Royal Rifle Corps he was killed in action in France during World War I and is buried in Rue-Petillon Military Cemetery in Fleurbaix.
George Butterfield GBR ATH 1908 †24 September 1917. Killed in action France.
Giuseppe Caimi (DNS) ITA FTB 1912 †14 December 1917. For his courage and boldness he received by Royal decree a posthumous gold medal for military valour.
Oswald Carver GBR ROW 1908 †7 June 1915. With the 1st/2nd East Lancashire Royal Engineers he was killed in action in Turkey in World War I and is buried in the Lancashire Landing Cemetery.
Joseph Caullé FRA ATH 1912 †1 October 1915. Killed in action during World War I.
Ralph Chalmers GBR FEN 1908 †8 May 1915. Killed in action during World War I.
Noel Chavasse GBR ATH 1908 †4 August 1917. He is one of only three men to have been awarded a bar to the Victoria Cross. Serving as a captain in the RAMC he was first awarded the VC in 1916 and a bar posthumously in 1917.
Geoffrey Coles GBR SHO 1908 †27 January 1916. Killed in action during World War I.
André Corvington HAI FEN 1900 †13 December 1918. Killed in action in World War I near Reims.
Percy Courtman GBR SWI 1908-12 †2 June 1917. Part of 6th Battalion Manchester Regiment he was killed in action in World War I. Buried at Neuville-Bourjonval British Cemetery.
Harry Crank GBR DIV 1908 †22 October 1917. Killed in action near Ypres Belgium.
Robert Davies GBR SHO 1912 †9 September 1916. A member of the 1st/9th Batallion London Regiment (Queen Victoria's Rifles) he was killed in action in the Somme in France in World War I.
Olivier Baron de Brandois FRA SAI 1900 †9 June 1916 Death of illnesses contracted whilst serving as a member of the French Army
Louis de Champsavin FRA EQU 1900 †20 December 1916. Killed in action during World War I.
Félix Debax FRA FEN 1900 †25 August 1914. Killed in action in World War I.
Alex Decouteau CAN ATH 1912 †17 October 1917. Killed in action in the Battle of Passchendale.
Oszkár Demján HUN SWI 1912 †4 September 1914. Killed in action during World War I.
Charles Devendeville FRA SWI/WAP 1900 †19 September 1914. Killed in action.
Karl Baron von Diepurg GER IOC 1909-14 †25 October 1914. Killed in action during World War I.
Joe Dines GBR FTB 1912 †27 September 1918. He was killed in Pas de Calais as a second lieutenant on the Western front during World War I.
Herman Donners BEL WAP 1908-12 †14 May 1915. Killed in action World War I.
Jimmy Duffy CAN ATH 1912 †23 April 1915. In September 1913 he joined the Canadian Army and was assigned to the 91st Argyle Regiment. On April 23 1915 he was fatally wounded near Ypres Belgium.
Hugh Durant GBR MOP/SHO 1912 †20 January 1916. With the 9th Queen's Royal Lancers he was killed in action in France in World War I and is buried in the Vermelles British Cemetery.
Eric Fairbairn GBR ROW 1908 †20 June 1915. Killed in action in the Somme in France during World War I.
René Fenouillière FRA FTB 1908 †4 November 1916. Killed in action during World War I.
Léon Flameng FRA CYC 1896 †2 January 1917. Killed in action during World War I.
Alfred Flaxman GBR ATH 1908 †1 July 1916. Killed in an attack on the enemy positions at Gommecourt.
Mauricio Galvao GER HOK 1908 †6 March 1945. Killed in action in World War II. His grave is in the war cemetary in Zagreb Croatia.
Bert Gayler GBR CYC 1912 †23 June 1917. Killed by rifle fire during an ambush in a valley near Kotkai Bozi Khel.
Bernhard von Gaza GER ROW 1908 †25 September 1917. Killed in action during World War I in Belgium.
Thomas Gillespie GBR ROW 1912 †18 October 1914. A lieutenant with the King's Own Scottish Borderers he was killed in action in France in World War I and is buried in Le Touret Memorial.
Henry Goldsmith GBR ROW 1908 †9 May 1915. Killed in action at Fromelles.
Lajos Gönczy HUN ATH 1900-06 †4 December 1915. Killed in action in area of Galicia and Lodomeria.
Carl Heinrich Goßler GER ROW 1900 †9 September 1914. Killed in action during World War I.
Ámon von Gregurich HUN FEN 1900 †28 June 1915. Killed in action during World War I.
Jaroslav Hainz BOH TEN 1912 Died in Russia in World War I but further details not known.
Juho Halme FIN ATH 1908-12 †1 February 1918. Killed in action in Finnish Civil War.
Wyndham Halswelle GBR ATH 1906-08 †31 March 1915. Killed by a sniper's bullet in France.
George Hawkins GBR ATH 1908 †22 September 1917. During World War I he served as a Gunner with the Royal Artillery and was killed in action when a shell exploded in the doorway of a dugout while he was on outpost duty.
Harold Hawkins GBR SHO 1908 †16 June 1917. Reported missing between Bullecourt and Croisilles. When last seen he was wounded lying in a very forward position which unfortunately had to be abandoned.
Cecil Healy AUS SWI 1906-12 †29 August 1918. Killed in action in World War I.
Max Herrmann GER ATH 1912 †29 January 1915. Killed in action in World War I.
George Hutson GBR ATH 1912 †14 September 1914. Killed in action only five weeks after the outbreak of World War I.
Albert Jenicot FRA FTB 1908 †22 February 1916. An under-lieutenant with the 165th Regiment D Infantry he was killed in action in World War I.
Walther Jesinghaus GER GYM 1912 †1918. Killed in action during World War I.
Ernest Keeley RSA SHO 1912 †23 July 1918. A 2nd lieutenant with the 4th Regiment South African Infantry Unit he was killed in action in World War I and is buried in the Ploegsteert Memorial.
Frederick Kelly GBR ROW 1908 †13 November 1916. Killed in action during World War I.
Paul Kenna GBR EQU 1912 †30 August 1915. Killed in action at the Battle of Gallipoli.
Alister Kirby GBR ROW 1912 †29 March 1917. Served as a captain in the Rifle Brigade and died from illness in 1917.
Frederick Kitching GBR ATH 1908 †1914. Killed in action in World War I.
Dmitry Knyazhevich RUS FEN 1912 †1918 Killed during the Russian Revolution
Adolf Kofler AUT CYC 1912 †13 April 1915. Killed in action during World War I.
Georg Krogmann GER FTB 1912 Krogmann was killed in action in 1915 in Poland during World War I.
Nikolay Kynin RUS FTB 1912 †1916. Killed during World War I.
Ivan Laing GBR HOK 1908 †30 November 1917. With the 2nd Battalion Coldstream Guards he was killed in action in France during World War I and is buried in Metz-en-Couture Communal Cemetery British Extension.
Octave Lapize FRA CYC 1908 †14 July 1917. Killed when his plane was shot down near Verdun.
Béla Las-Torres HUN SWI 1908-12 †13 October 1915. Killed in action in Italy during World War I.
Henry Leeke GBR ATH 1908 †29 May 1915. Killed in action on the eve of his battalion's departure for Gallipoli.
Erich Lehmann GER ATH 1912 †9 July 1918. Listed as missing in action in World War I.
Feliks Leparsky RUS FEN 1912 †10 January 1917. Killed in action in World War I.
Bertrand Count de Lesseps FRA FEN 1908 †28 August 1918. Killed in action during World War I.
Ismaël de Lesseps FRA FEN 1908 †30 September 1915. Killed in action during World War I.
Paul Lüders GER BPO 1908 †25 February 1916. Killed in action in World War I in Verdun.
Eduard von Lütcken GER EQU 1912 †15 September 1914. Killed in action during World War I.
Georges Lutz FRA CYC 1908 †31 January 1915. Killed in action in World War I.
Willy Lützow GER SWI 1912 †1915. Killed in action during World War I.
William Lyshon USA WRE 1912 †13 October 1918. Killed in the final days of World War I.
Henry Macintosh GBR ATH 1912 †26 July 1918. Died from wounds sustained in the Second Battle of the Somme.
Duncan Mackinnon GBR ROW 1908 †9 October 1917. Killed in action at Ypres in the Battle of Passchendaele.
Gilchrist Maclagan GBR ROW 1908 †25 April 1915. Killed in action in Pilckem Ridge at the Second Battle of Ypres.
Jean de Mas Latrie FRA FEN/MOP 1908-12 †5 September 1914. Killed in action in World War I.
Leopold Mayer AUT SWI 1906 †21 September 1914. Killed in action during World War I.
Alphonse Meignant FRA ROW 1912 †4 November 1914. Killed at First Battle of Ypres during World War 1.
Robert Merz AUT FTB 1912 †30 August 1914. Killed in action during World War I.
Georg Mickler GER ATH 1912 †14 June 1915. Killed in action during World War I somewhere in Poland.
Felice Milano (DNS) ITA FTB 1912 †11 November 1915. Killed at the Fourth Battle of the Isonzo during World War I.
Percy Molson CAN ATH 1904 †5 July 1917. Killed in action when hit by mortar fire while attempting to rescue a fallen friend on the outskirts of Avignon France.
Alfred Motté FRA ATH 1908-12 †31 October 1918. Killed in action in World War I.
István Mudin HUN ATH 1906-08 †22 July 1918. Killed in action during World War I.
Edward Nash GBR EQU 1912 †21 February 1915. Killed in action during World War I.
Georges de la Nézière FRA ATH 1896 †9 October 1914. Killed in action during World War I.
Grigory Nikitin RUS FTB 1912 †1917. Killed during World War I.
Charles Oldaker GBR GYM 1908 †26 September 1915 Killed in action during World War I.at the Battle of Loos.
Harcourt Ommundsen GBR SHO 1908-12 †19 September 1915. A Lieutenant in the Honourable Artillery Company when he was killed at the Battle of Ieper in World War I.
Alan Patterson GBR ATH 1908-12 †14 March 1916. Commissioned into the Royal Field Artillery he was killed in action only two days after his 30th birthday.
Árpád Pédery HUN GYM 1912 †21 October 1914. Killed in action during World War I.
Jacques Person GER ATH 1912 †15 July 1915. From Alsace killed in action in Flanders as a member of the "7. Thüringische Infanterie-Regiment Nr. 96".
William Philo GBR BOX 1908 †7 July 1916. Killed in World War I during the battle of the Somme in France.
Hermann Plaskuda GER FEN 1912 †21 March 1918. Killed in action in World War I. His grave is in the war cemetary in St. Quentin France.
Léon Ponscarme FRA CYC 1900 †24 November 1916. Killed in action in World War I in Verdun.
Chris Porter (DNS) GBR FTB 1908 †4 June 1915. Killed in action at Gallipoli serving with the Manchester Regiment.
Bobby Powell CAN TEN 1908 Lieutenant in the 48th Canadian Infantry Battalion during World War I. Killed in action while fighting in France. Date and place unknown.
Kenneth Powell GBR ATH/TEN 1908-12 †18 February 1915. Killed in action while serving as a private in the HAC.
Friedrich Karl Prince von Preußen GER EQU 1912 †6 April 1917. During a flight on 21 March 1917 he was forced to land with a bullet in his engine and a slight wound to his foot. He landed his Albatros aircraft in no-man's land but while running towards his own lines he was severely wounded in the back by Australian troops. He was taken into Australian war captivity where he died from his injuries on 6 April 1917 at Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray.
Reggie Pridmore GBR HOK 1908 †13 March 1918. Served as a major in the Royal Horse & Field Artillery winning a Military Cross on the Somme before being killed in action in Italy.
John Prosser (DNS) GBR FTB 1908 †27 May 1917. Killed in action on the Western Front during the Battle of Arras.
Joseph Racine FRA CYC 1912 †28 October 1914. With the 113th Regiment Infantry he was killed in action in World War I.
Thomas Raddall GBR SHO 1908 †9 August 1918. With the 8th Battalion Canadian Infantry Manitoba Regiment he was killed in action in France in World War I and is buried in the Manitoba Cemetery in Caix.
Maurice Raoul-Duval FRA POL 1900 †5 May 1916. Killed in action during World War I.
Gino Ravenna ITA GYM 1908 Killed in Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp date unknown.
Josef Rieder GER CYC 1912 †13 July 1916. Killed in action during World War I.
John Robinson GBR HOK 1908 †23 August 1916. Commissioned into the North Staffordshire Regiment he was soon promoted to captain but died from injuries received in the Mesopotamian campaign.
Paddy Roche GBR ATH 1908 †7 June 1917. A lieutenant in the Royal Engineers he won an MC in World War I and was later killed in action.
Claude Ross ANZ ATH 1912 †19 August 1917. Killed in action in France.
Albert Rowland ANZ ATH 1908 †23 July 1918. Killed in action during the Second Battle of The Marne.
Marius Royet (DNS) FRA FTB 1908 †1915. Killed during World War I.
Maurice Salomez FRA ATH 1900 †7 August 1916. Killed in action in World War I.
Ronald Sanderson GBR ROW 1908 †17 April 1918. Killed in action near Ypres.
Ludwig Sauerhöfer GER WRE 1912 Sauerhöfer was killed in action during World War I (1914-18)
Heinrich Schneidereit GER TOW/WLT 1906 †30 September 1915. Killed in action as an artillery officer in France during World War I.
André Six FRA SWI 1900 †1 April 1915. Killed in action.
Pierre Six FRA FTB 1908 †7 July 1916. Killed in action during World War I.
Michel Soalhat FRA ATH 1906 †25 September 1915. Killed in action in World War I.
Robert Somers-Smith GBR ROW 1908 †1 July 1916. Killed in action on the first day of the Battle of the Somme.
Eberhard Sorge GER GYM 1912 †6 August 1918. Killed in action during World War I.
Alfred Staats GER GYM 1912 †22 October 1915. Killed in action during World War I.
Jenő Szántay HUN FEN 1908 †11 December 1914. Killed in action during World War I.
Géza Szegedy HUN ATH 1906 †1918. Killed in action during World War I.
Geoffrey Taylor CAN ROW 1908-12 †24 April 1915. Missing presumed killed during the Second Battle of Ypres.
Felix Tekusch (DNS) AUT FTB 1912 †21 May 1916. Killed in action during World War I.
Otto Thiel GER FTB 1912 Died during World War I
Waldemar Tietgens GER ROW 1900 †28 July 1917. Killed in action during World War I.
Dragutin Tomašević SRB ATH 1912 †1915. Killed in action during World War I in Serbia
Kostas Tsiklitiras GRE ATH 1906-12 †10 February 1913. Volunteered to fight in the Balkan Wars and fought at the Battle of Bizani where he contracted meningitis and died at the age of 24.
Justin Vialaret FRA FTB 1908 †30 September 1916. Killed in action in World War I.
Charles Vigurs GBR GYM 1908-12 †22 February 1917. With the 11th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment he was killed in action in France in World War I and is buried in the Maroc British Cemetery in Grenay.
Edmond Wallace FRA FEN 1900 †18 August 1915. Killed in action in World War I.
Rudolf Watzl AUT WRE 1906 †15 August 1915. Died from illness during World War I.
Arthur Wear USA TEN 1904 †6 November 1918. As a result of refusing to obtain proper treatment for a probable perforated duodenal ulcer he died still commanding his battalion during the Meuse-Argonne fighting.
Arthur Wilde GBR SHO 1908 †21 January 1916. With the 1st/6th Battalion South Staffordshire Regiment he was killed in action in World War I and is buried in the Arras Memorial.
Tony Wilding ANZ TEN 1912 †9 May 1915. Joined the British army and was leading an armoured car unit when he was killed at Aubers Ridge during the Battle of Neuve-Chapelle.
Victor Willems BEL FEN 1908-12 †1918. Killed in action during World War I.
Edward Williams GBR ROW 1908 †12 August 1915. With the 2nd Battalion Grenadier Guards he was killed in action in France in World War I and is buried in the St. Venant Communal Cemetery.
Herbert Wilson GBR POL 1908 †11 April 1917. Was a captain with the Royal Horse Guards near Arras. Died in the preliminary skirmishes leading up to the Battle of Paschendaele in Ypres Belgium.
Richard Yorke GBR ATH 1908-12 †22 December 1914. Killed in action in World War I while serving as a sergeant in the London Scottish.
Heinrich Ziegler GER FEN 1912 Killed in action during World War I
Béla Zulawszky HUN FEN 1908-12 †24 October 1914. Killed in action during World War I.

First Linkage of Olympedia and Olympic Channel Sites

We are pleased to announce that the conversion of Olympedia to IOC and Olympic Channel sites has started. Biographies for all Olympians now available at https://www.olympicchannel.com/en/athletes/. We continue to work with the OlyChannel to import all Olympedia features for your use and pleasure.

We are working with the IT people at the Olympic Channel and will be adding more and more of our original features from Olympedia. Hopefully, we will soon have the complete results for all sports, all events, and all athletes available, as it has been on Olympedia. Further work will continue to incorporate all of our features available on Olympedia. You may also note that because of the linkage to the Olympic Channel, videos of the athletes are now available, which we never had.

Wikipedia often has linked to our concurrent sports-reference sites. We have created links from sports-reference to Olympedia, which should also work for the olympichannel.com site. I am available to discuss how we can implement these links for the Wikipedians if they will contact me at bam1729bam@gmail.com.

My Thoughts on Olympic Bids, Hosts, and Financing

And so Switzerland’s electorate has voted not to pursue the 2026 Winter Olympics for the city of Sion. This occurred shortly before the U.S. Open golf championship was held at Shinnecock Hills on Long Island, and a few weeks before The Open Championship of 2018 will be held at Carnoustie Golf Links in Angus, Scotland. And Wimbledon starts today, with those big Rolex watches at the ends of the main courts, which would never be allowed at the Olympics. What could these possibly have to do with each other? Read on, my friend, and we shall discuss.

For the past decade the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has watched in what must be anguish as city after city has spurned their chances to host an Olympic Games or Olympic Winter Games, almost certainly concerned at the cost of hosting for their city, while wondering what exactly are the benefits. Sion was only the latest. Boston, Massachusetts was chosen as a potential host city for 2024 only to reject the offer a few months later. Norway, almost the quintessential host of a Winter Olympics in 1994 with Lillehammer, also voted against bidding for the 2022 Winter Olympics. And there were many more, in Germany, in Poland, ad seemingly nauseum.

What should be made of this and what should the IOC do to reverse this trend, with the future of the Olympic Games at risk if adequate cities cannot be found? I think there are a number of things that are possible and some of them relate to the US Open and The Open Championship and how those are conducted. Some of the other thoughts you will read in this post are ideas gleaned from many sources, some would say stolen, though I will give them credit.

The cost of hosting an Olympic Games has risen beyond reason in the last 30 years. Los Angeles hosted the 1984 Olympics for $545.9 million (US)[1] while the cost associated with the 2008 Beijing Olympics is often reported to have been $31 billion. The Opening Ceremony at Beijing is reported to have cost $310 million alone. Hosting an Olympics has become an arms race, with each city trying to outdo the previous host, and usually spending more and more money to do that. Almost all agree that the 2008 Opening Ceremony was the nonpareil Olympic ceremony, but basically it’s a party, and if you give me $310 million, I promise I will throw you one hell of a party, too.

Let us pause to remember a voice of reason in the cost of Olympic Games, yet one who is often forgotten, and during the run-up and the hosting of the 1984 Olympics was often vilified by the IOC and the European press because of frugal, often dogmatic ways. Peter Ueberroth was the chairman of the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee, a Games that ended with a $232.5 million surplus (you cannot call it a profit for US federally recognized non-profit organizations). How did he do it?

First of all, shortly after he was named chairman, Ueberroth went to the Helms Library in Los Angeles (now sited at the LA84 Foundation Library, one of the products of that $232.5 million surplus), and sat down and read all the previous Official Reports to see what previous Games cost, and what the primary source of those costs were. He came to the conclusion that the most important factor in Olympic Games expenses was the building of new stadia, and he vowed that he would host the 1984 Olympics without building new venues.

Ueberroth had an advantage in that Los Angeles has a lot of athletic facilities, but we’ll get to that later. He actually had to build 3 venues – a swim stadium, a velodrome, and a shooting range – but he got McDonald’s to fund the swim stadium and 7-Eleven to fund the velodrome[2], and the shooting range cost was only a rounding error.

What else did Ueberroth do that allowed Los Angeles to arrive at a surplus? In the book on the 1984 Olympics by Kenneth Reich, Making It Happen: Peter Ueberroth and the 1984 Olympics, it is described that when they were deciding on choices and costs, his mantra was, “It should be well done, but not ostentatious.” And it was never ostentatious. It was simple and somewhat austere compared to the Games that would come later, and the IOC thought it was downright cheap, but it worked.

So how can cities and the IOC use this information learned from Peter Ueberroth, a man Dick Pound has described to me as the most important member of the Olympic Movement who never became an IOC Member? Let’s look at The Open Championship and the US Open golf tournament.

The Open Championship (often called the British Open, which the Royal & Ancient hates) is not open to all clubs in the British Isles to host the tournament. It is held on a rota of courses that is predetermined, and currently consists of only 9 courses: St. Andrews, Carnoustie, Royal Birkdale, Muirfield, Turnberry, Royal Lytham & St. Anne’s, Hoylake (Royal Liverpool), Royal St. George’s, and Royal Troon. Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland will host the 2019 Open but it has not hosted since 1951 and is not a part of the normal rota.

The advantage of this is the 9 host courses on the rota all have hosted the tournament before, usually fairly recently. They know how to do it, they have facilities at the ready, they have committees and committee members available who have previous knowledge of hosting an Open Championship.

Compare this to an Olympic Games in the 21st century. It is given to a city often with no previous experience hosting an Olympic Games, such as Rio de Janeiro, Athens (last hosted in 1906), and the like. They don’t know how to do it, they have never hosted, often they don’t always have the facilities and must violate Ueberroth Rule #1 by building stadia all over the place, and they don’t have the experience in committees and committee members.

So should the IOC go to a fixed number of cities to host the Olympic Games? I think they need to do something like this although it may not be cities. In fact, I think the IOC needs to distribute Games to countries because of the venue problems and begin to think of an organized rota of cities / nations to host Olympic Games.

Now in the 1970s and early 1980s when the IOC was broke, before Ueberroth made an Olympics profitable (excuse me, surplusable), and before Juan Antonio Samaranch and Dick Pound started the TOP Program, with the help of Patrick Nally and Michael Payne[3], it was always discussed that the IOC should hold all Olympic Games at one fixed site, with Olympia, Greece always quoted as the site of the Summer Games. Fortunately that talk is over now, as that will never work, certainly not in Olympia, as they have no facilities except those left over from the Ancient Olympics, they have no airport, the bus ride to Olympia takes about 6 hours from Athens, and, well, the Greeks are broke, some of which is still blamed on the 2004 Olympics.

But the IOC could go to a rota of cities and nations. Perhaps consider 3 sites in Europe, 2 sites in North America, 2 sites in Asia, and 2 open sites to rotate between South America, Africa, and Oceania, so that NOCs and IFs would know decades in advance where the Games would be held. It does not always have to be the same site in Europe or North America or Asia, although that would help if cities were to step up. I don’t really care how many cities / nations in the rota or where they are, but I do think the IOC should insist that only cities that already have Olympic facilities available should be allowed in the rota.

The advantages of this idea are that only cities which have the available facilities and don’t require major building projects to host an Olympics will be chosen – see Los Angeles. It also eliminates the now exorbitant cost of bidding for the Games, and often losing the bid. Like the courses that host Open Championships, the cities will also have the experience of hosting a Games, with facilities, infrastructure, and committees and committee members available. Look at Los Angeles, which called on the sporting structure that was formed in the aftermath of the 1984 Olympics, the LA84 Foundation, which was a big part of why their bid for 2024 / 2028 was so solid.

The IOC will not like the rota idea but I think it has to go to something like this. They always say they want to spread the Games to all nations of the world, but that is an idea from the 19th century when the Games had 9 sports, 12 nations, and about 250 competitors (1896 Athens). The Summer Games now have 34 sports, 206 nations, about 11,000 competitors, and even a larger contingent of media of all types. They are now so large that the IOC has to recognize that only a few cities in the world, and only a few nations in the world, can host a modern Olympic Games.

But you will say, “Look, the Games will only return to a city every 32-40 years or so. The personnel experience will be gone by then. That’s no advantage.” And I now give you the US Golf Association (USGA) and how they host US Open Championships for the second main part of my argument.

The US Golf Association does not do a formal rota for the US Open, as does the Royal & Ancient, although it returns to certain sites with some frequency, namely Oakmont, Pebble Beach, Shinnecock Hills, Pinehurst, and Winged Foot, among others. But it allows new clubs to host the Open, such as Erin Hills in 2017, and Chambers Bay in 2016 – both considered now marginal choices.

But what the USGA does is they do not give all the responsibility of organizing an Open to the host club and their organizing committee, as the IOC does. Shortly after the club is awarded a US Open (the time before hosting when it is awarded is variable in the case of the US Open), the USGA starts sending their own team to the club. They live there, they work there. They have worked at previous host clubs – they have the experience. And as the tournament gets close, the USGA presence on site increases, since they know how to run the tournament. They take over. Clubs do not always like this, but it’s a necessary evil to avoid the golfing equivalent of Rio de Janeiro.

The IOC does not do this to any degree. They let the host city form their own organizing committee (OCOG) and give them almost full responsibility. More recently, they have acknowledged that OCOGs need help. Until about 20 years ago, the OCOG had to start from scratch, but the IOC has at least started a clearing house of data from previous hosts called the Olympic Games Knowledge Services (OGKS), which can spread information to new OCOGs. It has also formed the Olympic Broadcasting Service (OBS), to assist and take production duties off the OCOGs. But the OCOG in a new host city usually has no experience, effectively, they have no clue. The OCOG reports to the IOC Coordination Commission periodically and tells them how things are going, and the Coordination Commission visits the city periodically to check on progress.

Slightly more than a year prior to Rio, the IOC Coordination Commission realized Rio needed significant help quickly and dispatched Gilbert Felli to Rio on a full-time basis to get things jump started. Fine, but that was too little, too late. The IOC should follow the lead of the USGA and send an IOC team to the host city shortly after it is awarded the Games – 7 years before they are to host the Games. They are the leaders of the Olympic Movement and they need to develop the personnel and the teams that rotate around to the various sites, and use them.

Remember that the US Open and The Open Championships are large sporting events, but nowhere near as large an Olympic Games, and with nowhere near the complexity. I can’t say how many people from the IOC should be living in the host city or for how long, but I do know that 1 person for 1 year is inadequate for the largest sporting event on the planet. Those IOC teams should comprise people in various categories, experts in things like media, finances, sporting facilities, security, international relations, and others.

There are other things cities can do to decrease the costs of Olympic Games. Michael Payne, former director of marketing at the IOC and then at Formula One, recently tweeted that cities should not be allowed to attach the Olympic title to any infrastructure project they elect to do in preparation for the Olympics (https://twitter.com/MichaelRPayne1/status/1006284904248827906). These are projects cities always want to get done – the ring road around Athens in 2004, the upgrade of Hartsfield International Airport in Atlanta in 1996, enlarging the Sea-to-Sky Highway from Vancouver to Whistler in 2010, building a brand new ski resort near Sochi, and many other such projects.

But these are things the cities have usually wanted for themselves for some time, and when they see the Olympics, they find a way to glom these costs onto the Olympic budget. When that happens, Olympic costs can get astronomical. In fact, Dan Doctoroff, former advisor to New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, often said that the NYC and Boston Olympic bids could be used by governments to catalyze infrastructure deals that wouldn’t have otherwise happened.[4]

Not well known is that there are three facets of the costs of hosting an Olympic Games, best described by Holger Preuß in his excellent book The Economics of the Olympic Games: A Comparison of the Games 1972-2008, and have also been described more recently in the paper out of the Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford study by Bent Flyvbjerg, Allison Stewart, and Alexander Budzier: The Oxford Olympics Study 2016: Cost and Cost Overrun at the Games[5]. The three are: 1) operational costs or the costs of running the Olympics for 2 weeks of the Games, and the costs of funding the organizing committee’s work before and after the Games; 2) direct costs, which is what Peter Ueberroth all but eliminated, which is building stadia and other facilities, such as media centers (Main Press Centre and International Broadcast Centre), and Olympic Villages; and 3) indirect costs, which are the city projects described in the previous paragraph and which escalated beyond belief in the case of Sochi 2014, which built a new ski resort at Krasnaya Polyana for the Mountain Cluster of events, and then built a highway connecting Krasnaya Polyana with Sochi (really Adler, where the Games were actually held).

We’ll start with 3) first, which I already mentioned. Cities have to stop using the Olympic Games for self-improvement projects and then blaming the IOC for the cost of those projects. The IOC does hold the trademark to the word Olympic and as Michael Payne said, they should not allow the word to be used connected to any infrastructure not needed specifically to host the Games.

Aha, you say, but what if this infrastructure is needed to host the Games? By going to a rota, and rarely using new cities, this should not be necessary, and any cities / nations that want to get on the rota should not be allowed if they do not have the necessary infrastructure (see Rio / Sochi).

As to 2), do what Peter Ueberroth said, “Don’t build new facilities.” If you don’t have them, don’t bid for the Olympics. If the city doesn’t have the requisite facilities, the IOC should not award the Games to the city or allow it on the rota. Further, the International Federations (IFs) have to share some of the blame here by demanding more and better facilities, and adding to the host cities arms race. As an example, track cycling is held in a velodrome which few cities outside of France or Japan will ever use outside of the Olympics. It will never pay for itself, but the UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale) mandates an indoor, fixed wooden track facility. A temporary artificial track can be used, as it was for Atlanta in 1996. The UCI will not like that, but we’re sorry.

If you do need some facilities, temporary is the key word. The US Olympic Swimming Trials has been held in Omaha, Nebraska for the last few Olympics, and Olympic journalist Alan Abrahamson has raved about their hosting ability. But there is no natatorium there – they use a temporary pool set up for the trials and the same could be done at the Olympic Games. FINA (Fédération Internationale de Natation Amateur) will not like it, and they do not like the events being held outdoors, as at Los Angeles in 1984 and Barcelona in 1992, but both things would greatly decrease the cost of building more stadia.

Temporary facilities can be placed inside already existing structures, such as convention centres, or such centres can be built for the city to use later. Those will make money, and cities love convention centres because they bring business, people, tourists, and money to them for many years. The media centres – Main Press Centre and International Broadcast Centre (IBC) – should be built with future use as a convention centre in mind, or in the case of the IBC, future use as a broadcast centre for the city. As to Olympic Villages, virtually all major cities can use more low-cost housing and these villages, if they need to be built, should be designed with that future need in mind.

Another example of an IF that forces OCOGs hand is the ISU (International Skating Union) which mandates that speed skating must be held on an indoor oval at the Winter Olympics. I love speed skating, but those never (or rarely) get used after the Olympics. Strangely the ISU does not require its World Championships to be held on indoor oval. The IOC needs to tell the IFs that they run the show at the Olympics and we will do what is cost conscious for cities. Currently the IFs tell the cities and the IOC what they are entitled to, but paraphrasing Col. Nathan R. Jessup, “[We] don’t give a damn what you think you are entitled to.”

The cities must be allowed to use temporary facilities at every turn, if they do not have pre-existing stadia for each. Building a hockey (field) stadium is a nice idea perhaps in India or some cities in Europe, but at most cities it will become a white elephant. If the city does not have enough structures, either do not let that city in the rota, or allow them to use temporary structures, ideally structures that could even be rotated to the next city to host, similar to a traveling circus, that brings all its tents with it to each new city.

Further, OCOGs should do as Ueberroth did and get corporations to build facilities, if they need them, and here we look at Wimbledon. I think the IOC should loosen up their rules and allow more advertising at Olympic sites, which is now forbidden. Sorry, but Wimbledon is a very staid, proper event, which is what the IOC wants, yet I don’t think anyone is complaining about that Rolex clock that is seen every time the camera focuses for 34 seconds on Rafael Nadal hitting his first serve, and for which I assure you Rolex pays Wimbledon a significant sum each year. If you tell a corporation that they can have the Coca-Cola Olympic Natatorium or the Intel Olympic Velodrome, and that their name will show up on virtually every TV in every nation in the world for about 3 weeks, I think the money will appear very quickly to get that structure built.

Finally, on 1), if we have a rota of cities / nations, and the IOC assigns teams to each city / nation immediately after hosting, and the IOC runs the Games as a professional organization, and not allow an amateur OCOG to run them, this will certainly greatly decrease operational costs, because the IOC teams will know, and learn more during each Olympiad, where the money should be spent, and where it should not be. This facet of Olympic costs is relatively well-controlled and is not usually responsible for major cost overruns, but certainly a more experienced team in place from the beginning can limit these costs as well.

The Olympic naysayers will say that this all sounds too simplistic and that Olympic costs will always continue to spiral, as the Oxford study showed (noted above). They will also say that I am an Olympic apologist who is blind to the realties of modern Olympic economics.

Yes, I am a big believer in the Olympic Games and the Olympic Movement. I think it serves a real need by bringing the nations of the world together peacefully for 2-3 weeks every few years, and making the people of the world realize and understand that we are far more alike than we are different (see North and South Korea in PyeongChang). But I am far from an Olympic apologist.

The NOlympics Movement people know only one thing about the Olympics – they have cost too much in recent years. Most have never been to an Olympic Games, compared to my 14. Most have never read a book on the Olympics Games, such as Preuß’s book on Olympic Economics. My Olympic library comprises over 1,000 books, most of which I’ve read, and my CV notes that I have written 27 books on the Olympic Games, so the NOlympics people cannot begin to tell me they know more about the Olympics, or Olympic finance, than I do.

I believe the Olympic Games can be brought to fiscal responsibility but it will take some effort, changing some rules, and doing some things the IOC and the IFs will not like. In the past 30 years there have been fiscally responsible Olympic Games, in addition to Los Angeles 1984 – Atlanta 1996, Salt Lake 2002, and Sydney 2000, and Vancouver 2010 all finished either with a small profit or neutral revenues. So it can be done. And here is my summary of what I believe are the steps that should be done to make this happen on a regular basis:

  1. Set up a rota of Olympic sites that have the necessary facilities so that building venues and stadia are not a huge part of Olympic budgets, and what this mandates is that if you do not already have the facilities you can’t be on the rota.
  2. After the Games are awarded to the host city, have the IOC run the Organizing Committee on-site with their own team, rather than trusting OCOGs, who have no experience, to do it.
  3. Insist on infrastructure costs, or local capital projects, be taken out of Olympic accounting. If the city wants to build it, they can, but it should never be an Olympic cost. If we follow 1., hopefully these projects will not be needed to host the Olympics. If the IOC team is on-site running the OCOG, they should be able to see that this does not get added to their budget.
  4. The IOC needs to be in charge of how the events are held, and not the IFs, who always want the newest and best facilities, and contribute to the Olympic host city arms race that greatly increases budgets.
  5. Loosen up the IOC advertising rules by allowing corporations to advertise on site, which will immediately increase the possibility that such corporations will pay for the building of any facilities that are needed.
  6. Always use temporary stadia and facilities, if needed, and if they cannot be built and paid for by corporations, and always consider rotating these around to future Olympic sites.

___________________

With thanx to David Fay, former executive director of the US Golf Association; Ben Fischer, writer at Sports Business Daily; Hilary Evans (@OlympicStatman); and Rich Perelman, former media director of the  Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee (LAOOC) and current publisher of The Sports Examiner. All four read pre-prints of this and made suggestions, many of which were included. All mistakes are mine.

Original version had an error that has been corrected and was spotted by Alan Abrahamson. It was Gilbert Felli, not Christophe Dubi, who spent a year in Rio on the IOC’s behalf.

___________________

[1] All financial figures throughout will be in US dollars, not corrected for inflation. Similarly all financial figures for Olympic costs and profits/surpluses should be regarded as estimates. All such financial figures have been sourced from either Official Reports, Holger Preuß’s book on the economics of the Olympic Games (see later in article), or in the case of 1984 Los Angeles, direct information from Rich Perelman, who had a lead role in the LAOOC.

[2] Technically, McDonald’s and 7-Eleven were only sponsors, but all their sponsorships dollars were directed to the swim stadium and the velodrome, respectively, and they did receive naming rights (which could only be used after the Olympics). Information from Rich Perelman.

[3] Rich Perelman points out that even the TOP Program was strongly based on the LAOOC sponsorship program, designed by Ueberroth and Joel Rubinstein, who he notes does not get enough credit for his work on all this.

[4] Info kindly provided to me by Ben Fischer at Sports Business Daily – see https://www.google.com/search?q=Dan+Doctoroff+use+the+olympics&rlz=1C5CHFA_enUS703US703&oq=Dan+Doctoroff+use+the+olympics+&aqs=chrome..69i57.4375j0j9&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

[5] Can be found at this link – https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2804554.

The USA Performance at PyeongChang – An Analysis

Much ado has been made about the USA performance in PyeongChang, but is it much ado about nothing? Let’s look at the stats.

Here are the recent USA medal performances at the Winter Olympics.

Year G S B TM MedalOps %%%
1976 3 3 4 10 100 10.0%
1980 6 4 2 12 103 11.7%
1984 4 4 0 8 106 7.5%
1988 2 1 3 6 123 4.9%
1992 5 4 2 11 150 7.3%
1994 6 5 2 13 162 8.0%
1998 6 3 4 13 177 7.3%
2002 10 13 11 34 206 16.5%
2006 9 9 7 25 216 11.6%
2010 9 15 13 37 222 16.7%
2014 9 7 12 28 254 11.0%
2018 23 262 8.8%

The 23 # for 2018 is a guesstimate based on what they have won thru 19 February.

What is medal ops? Events do not uniformly allow a nation to win three medals. Most team events only allow a nation to enter 1 team (bobsled has 2). So medal ops is the total number of medals that a nation can win, and %%% is the percentage of the possible medals they could win. You can see the program inflation at the Winter Olympics, primarily due to the introduction of X-Games sports since 1988.

So what if we don’t count the X-Games events? How are we doing in the classic winter sports – those that were on the program prior to 1992, when the X-Games sports like freestyle skiing, snowboarding, skeleton, and short-track speed skating, came on the program.

Here are those #s.

Year G S B TM MedalOps %%%
1976 3 3 4 10 100 10.0%
1980 6 4 2 12 103 11.7%
1984 4 4 0 8 106 7.5%
1988 2 1 3 6 123 4.9%
1992 3 3 1 7 136 5.1%
1994 5 3 0 8 136 5.9%
1998 3 3 2 8 137 5.8%
2002 5 7 8 20 154 13.0%
2006 5 6 2 13 158 8.2%
2010 6 11 5 22 158 13.9%
2014 3 3 7 13 166 7.8%
2018 10 173 5.8%

Again, the 10 # for 2018 is a guesstimate.

Let’s look more closely. In 2002 and 2010 we won about 1/6th of the available medals. What do those two Olympics have in common? They were home fields for the USA. I know, you will demur and say, “Wait a minute, 2010 was in Canada,” but Vancouver sits on the US border and is probably easier to get to for US fans than Salt Lake, and travel for US athletes was no problem. It was a home field for us, for certain. It is well known that home nations always improve their performance in the medal table.

Further, after competing in a home nation Olympics, those nations typically do less well at the next few Olympics after that – see http://olympstats.com/2014/03/06/host-nation-bounce-effect/ in which I showed pretty effectively that after a nation hosts an Olympics, it tends to win about 75% as many medals at the next Olympics, then 60% at the Olympics after that, and 50% at the Olympics 12-years down the road.

So after the two “home” Olympics of 2002 and 2010, we could definitely expect to see a diminution of American medal expectations. But it was never presented as such.

Further, not only does the USA do better in home Olympics, the further we travel the less well we do, although the numbers there are not as strong. The last Asian Winter Olympics was in 1998 at Nagano. There we won 7.3% of available medals vs. a projected 8.8% in 2018. In the classic sports we won 5.8% of available medals in Nagano, and are projected to win … 5.8% of those medals in PyeongChang.

Another problem has been our performance in those X-Games sports – we’re not doing as well as once we did. Even that is not unusual. Think about other “modern” sports which had an American origin, or one in which Americans pioneered them. Triathlon – we were once dominant – think of the Scotts (Dave, Molina, Tinley) at the Ironman, winning every year. Now we rarely get on the podium. Mountain biking was once an American stronghold (remember Ned Overend), but by the time it got to Olympics in 1996, we were an afterthought.

The same is happening in the X-Games winter sports. In short-track speed skating (I know, its technically not in the X-Games, but same difference), once we had Cathy Turner winning golds, and Apolo Anton Ohno winning multiple medals, but now the Koreans are so dominant. We usually are happy with an occasional bronze.

In freestyle skiing and snowboarding, we’re still very good, but the Europeans have started to focus on these sports, and our dominance has been waning. With nationally subsidized sports programs, which is common in Europe, once sports get on the Olympic program those nations start focusing on them, and usually improve quickly.

What of the classic sports and our medal chances in 2018, look at them with a retrospectoscope, realistically.

  • Alpine Skiing – we had no male medal hopes. Bode is retired and Ted Ligety is returning from back surgery. On the women’s side, we have Lindsay and Mikaela but that’s it. Julia Mancuso just retired after many hip injuries, and there is nobody in the pipeline at the moment. Even with Lindsay Vonn, that is not the same body as in 2006-10, after 2 ACL recons and a humeral shaft fracture, with an ORIF and a radial nerve palsy.
  • Biathlon – we’ve never won a medal. Lowell Bailey did win a World Championship in 2017, but has struggled this year and I think medal expectations were unrealistic.
  • Bobsled – since 2002 we have started winning medals again, but the USA Team was devastated by the tragic early death of Steve Holcomb, our best driver. Without him, our medal chances greatly diminished.
  • Cross-Country Skiing – Bill Koch won a medal in 1976 in the 30 km. Boxing had the great white hopes of Jerry Quarry in 1970s and Gerry Cooney in the 1980s, and every Winter Olympics we hear of another great American white-snow hope, but like Quarry and Cooney, they never seem to materialize.
  • Figure Skating – our singles skaters have not been very good for almost a decade now. Our pairs skaters have never been at the top internationally. Ice dance has now become our best event. Adding the team event has helped us win a medal because of our depth, but we are not the world leaders in this sport.
  • Ice Hockey – the women are excellent, with only the Canadians to rival them. On the men’s side, without the NHL did anyone seriously think we could beat European teams that are playing skaters from the KHL, the world’s second best league? There is still a chance – maybe they can pull off an upset.
  • Luge – we’ve never won much and cannot touch the Germans. Chris Mazdzer won a medal, which is a reasonably good performance for the US in this sport.
  • Nordic Combined – we won 4 medals in the sport at Vancouver, but those are the only medals we have ever won. We were not expecting any in PyeongChang.
  • Ski Jumping – we have won 1 medal, a bronze in 1924 by Anders Haugen, a Norwegian émigré, who only received it in 1974 after a scoring error was revealed. A top 10 finish in this sport is rare for the US.
  • Speed Skating – paraphrasing Rick Pitino, “Eric Heiden (or Bonnie Blair or Dan Jansen) is not walking thru that door.” On the men’s side our only medal hope was Joey Mantia, and he still has his best event, the mass start. For the women, Brittany Bowe and Heather Bergsma were the best skaters in the world – in 2016. Bowe then had a concussion and recovered slowly and Bergsma has not been as good in the last 2 seasons. Media attention on our speed skating hopes may be overblown because our skaters often post world leading times, but that is usually at Salt Lake City, or Calgary, which are known as the 2 fastest ovals in the world.

Winter Olympic sports must be those held on snow or ice, per the Olympic Charter. There are 3 basic sports – skiing, skating, and sliding. In those the USA has been the dominant nation only rarely – figure skating from 1952-60, and Eric Heiden in speed skating in 1977-80. In Alpine skiing, the Austrians and Swiss dominate. In Nordic skiing, it’s the Norwegians. Speed skating belongs to the Dutch skaters, or the Koreans in short-track. And in the sliding sports (bobsled, luge, skeleton), the Germans are nonpareil.

So, we have had almost a perfect storm set up against the USA Winter Olympians at PyeongChang: 1) they were being compared to performances in 2002 and 2010 at home Olympics; 2) with the host nation bounce effect, fewer medals should have been expected; 3) with an Asian games, so far away from home, we do not always perform as well, and we have been similar to the last one at Nagano, Japan; 4) with Europeans focusing more on X-Games sports, our dominance there is waning; and 5) in the classic winter sports, we’ve had many injuries, a death, and retirements of our top athletes, and we have almost never been a dominant nation.

The @TeamUSA performance at PyeongChang has not been bad, despite reports to the contrary. We’ve had many, many 4th, 5th, and 6th place finishes, as pointed out by Rich Perelman in The Sports Examiner, and echoed by USA team spokesman Mark Jones. But the expectations of 30-35 medals should never have been made – they were unrealistic.

1000th Gold Medal

1000th Winter Olympic gold medal tonite per IOC spokesman Mark Adams. He said he wasn’t sure which event it would come in. Neither am I. Seems like a simple thing, doesn’t it? Just count the # of Winter Olympic events.

Let’s see what the counts are. Through 2014 there were 960 events in Winter Olympic sports. Notice I said Winter Olympic sports. In 1908, figure skating was held at the Summer Olympics (4 events) and in 1920 figure skating (3 events) and ice hockey (1 event) were contested. So if you could count those as non-Winter Olympic events, that gives 952 Olympic Winter Games (OWG) events.

But there have been various ties over the years, so of the 952 events, there have been 955 gold medals. But wait, prior to the investigation of Russian doping, there were actually 959 gold medals at the OWG, as 4 were removed, giving 955 – they had not yet been re-assigned. But wait, in January several of the Russian medals were restored, giving 957, or 965, if you count 1908 and 1920.

And if you really get funky with it, including 1908 and 1920, there have been 5,711 gold medals awarded.

So there you have it. The number of Winter gold medals before PyeongChang started was 952, or 955, or 957, or 959, or 960, or 961, or 963, or 965, … or 5,711. Makes you understand why Mark Adams said he didn’t know when the 1,000th gold medal would occur. Neither do I. Depends exactly on how you define your terms.

(With thanx to David Clark, who suggested we look at this landmark)

Shaun White – For the Record Book

By winning the snowboarding halfpipe tonite, Shaun White has  achieved the following:

  • 100th gold medal for @TeamUSA – his other two gold medals were #71 (2006) and #83 (2010)
  • 3rd oldest (31-164) SNB gold medalist (men and overall) – after Jasey-Jay Anderson (CAN) (34-321; 2010 / PGS) and Seth Wescott (33-232; 2010 / Boardercross)
  • 3rd oldest @TeamUSA Winter Olympic individual gold medalist (men and overall) – after Jim Shea (33-255; 2002 / Skeleton) and Wescott
  • First snowboarder (men and overall) to win 3 gold medals
  • =1st snowboarder to win 3 medals – with Kelly Clark (USA)
  • 2nd all-time USA men for most Winter Olympic gold medals (after Eric Heiden)
  • 3rd all-time @TeamUSA for most Winter Olympic gold medals (after Eric Heiden and Bonnie Blair)
  • =6th all-time USA men for most Winter Olympic medals
  • =12th all-time men for most Winter Olympic individual gold medals
  • 1st USA male to win gold medals at 3 Winter Olympics (tied with Bonnie Blair overall)
  • =1st USA male to win medals at 3 Winter Olympics (with Apolo Anton Ohno)
  • USA record for most years between gold medals (12) – now Ted Ligety with 8 (men and overall)
  • =4th all-time for most years between gold medals (men) (12)
  • 1st USA male to medal three times in same event at the Winter Olympics (tied with Bonnie Blair overall)
  • =1st (with 5 other men) among male Winter Olympians for gold medals in same individual event (3)

To the US, and International, Olympic Media

My Olympics in Korea have ended, as I sit in Seoul Incheon airport for my flight back to Atlanta. Some of you may have heard I had a problem in PyeongChang. Friday AM, while doing a CNN interview, I could not speak for part of the interview, and after going to hospital, was diagnosed with a small stroke. I have been at Gangneung Asan Medical Center until this morning.

I’m doing well, but I have only one problem remaining which is maddening for someone dealing with databases and spreadsheets. My fine motor skills with my right hand are still slow, making typing this difficult.

I’ve been asked if I can still help with stats during the Games. I want to, but please understand I want to spend a few days with my wife and dogs and trying to recover further. I will do what I can, when I can, but I may have to say no, occasionally. I have never done that and always tried to help you guys. Please understand.

My care in Korea, speaking from my day job as an orthopaedic surgeon, was superb. And God bless the USOC for organizing my care and getting me back home. I’ll be back.