Olympic Marathon: A Centennial History of the Games' Most Storied Race

By Charlie Lovett | Go to book overview

7
The Games of the VII Olympiad: Antwerp, 1920

The Games of 1916 had been scheduled to take place in Berlin, but with the outbreak of World War I, they were cancelled. To help preserve the Olympic movement, the headquarters of the IOC was moved to the neutral country of Switzerland where they were established near Pierre de Coubertin's new home in Lausanne, and where they remain to this day. The 1920 Games had been planned for Budapest, but after the war, it was thought inappropriate to extend the invitation to either the Germans or the Hungarians to host the Games because they were viewed as the aggressors in the war, so the IOC awarded the Games to the city of Antwerp, Belgium.

The Belgians did their best to host the Games, a remarkable effort considering the devastation remaining from the war, which had ended only twenty months prior to the start of the competition. Though most events were not well attended, because Belgians could afford very little and could not spend money on sporting tickets, all agreed that the hosts had done the best that could be expected under the circumstances. The Antwerp Games were the first over which the five-ringed Olympic flag flew. The flag was a gift from the city of Antwerp and the same flag still flies over an Olympic stadium every four years. The 1920 Games also featured the introduction of the athletes oath, taken by one athlete in the name of all competitors. In spite of these symbols of unity, Germany and Austria, enemies of the Allies in the recent war, were not invited to participate in the Antwerp Games.

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