Paris 2024 Olympic Games: a century ago, we fought in rugby, we drank red in the marathon, we raced in a hot air balloon… Another Olympic world

Paris 2024 Olympic Games: a century ago, we fought in rugby, we drank red in the marathon, we raced in a hot air balloon... Another Olympic world

Les JO de Paris 1924, un autre monde. MAXPPP – PIERRE ROUANET

JO-1924 :  fantaisies et truculences des Jeux de Paris. 

A record for bronze, the violent farewells of rugby union, the savate on display, wine to hydrate the athletes, artistic events on the medal table… turned towards modernity, the Olympics of Paris-1924 sometimes remained baroque and folkloric.

A jump worth gold

With a leap of 7.76 m, American Robert LeGendre beats the long jump world record by 7 cm. Except that he did not achieve this performance during this competition, won by his black compatriot DeHart Hubbard who landed… 31 cm less far, but during one of the pentathlon events. A feat that didn't really pay off, since it only earned him a bronze medal in the end.

Veni vidi ovalie

For the fourth time, rugby union is on the program. Only three countries are in the running, the defending champion United States, France and Romania. British and southern hemisphere nations snub the tournament, claiming rugby is played in winter.

The American team, made up of university specialists in American football and basketball having only learned the rules of this sport during their first gathering, retains its title against the Blues (17-3). A confrontation which sometimes turns into fistfights on the pitch and even more so in the stands in Colombes.

Whistles accompany the raising of the star-spangled flag and the American anthem, a large police force protects the players' hasty exit. We are quite far from the Olympic spirit. And as Pierre de Coubertin, who had it included in the Games program in 1900, withdrew from the IOC in 1925, rugby lost its promoter, disappearing until its reintegration in its VII to Rio in 2016.

Red wine against sunstroke

A massacre occurs during the cross country event: under 40 degrees, more than half of the participants suffering from sunstroke give up. So for the marathon, a few days later, in similar conditions, the organizers have numerous water points on the route. And during these refreshments, large glasses of wine are also served.

Nothing new: during the 1900 Games, already held in Paris, advertisements praised the merits of this beverage for athletes, as well as for Tour de France cyclists who regularly consume it during the stages. It was the Finn Albin Stenroos who won the marathon, six minutes ahead of the competition, but taking care not to raise his elbow.


From the start of the Olympic adventure, the most popular sports of the time, but also those known as aristocracy or military sports, were part of the various programs . Jumbled up the game of bowls, the hot air balloon competition, angling, polo, croquet, tug of war, releasing pigeons but also live pigeon shooting, jumping without momentum, swimming with obstacles…

In 1924, the slipper was invited to the Paris Games, but a little late because it had been in decline since the end of the First World War. The combat cane, widely practiced in France, even in the famous television series Les Brigades du Tigre, is also on display, as is Basque pelota which is making a comeback after a first foray in 1900. These disciplines will not pass muster. the cut, unlike Canadian canoeing which became an Olympic sport in Berlin in 1936 under the name canoe-kayak.

Gold in art

During these 1924 Olympic Games, medals were not awarded only to athletes. The artists also compete, for the third time after 1912 and 1920, in accordance with Pierre de Coubertin's wish to respect tradition, uniting art and sport, dating back to ancient Greece. Five disciplines are on the menu: painting, sculpture, music, literature and architecture.

The works presented have a unique theme of sport. No less than 193 registrants from 24 countries exhibit their works at the Grand Palais and 14 medals are awarded by juries including artists much more prestigious than the participants, notably the composers Maurice Ravel, Igor Stravinsky, Béla Bartok, the writers Jean Giraudoux and Paul Claudel, or the painter Fernand Léger.

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

(function(d,s){d.getElementById("licnt2061").src= ";r"+escape(d.referrer)+ ((typeof(s)=="undefined")?"":";s"+s.width+"*"+s.height+"*"+ (s.colorDepth?s.colorDepth:s.pixelDepth))+";u"+escape(d.URL)+ ";h"+escape(d.title.substring(0,150))+";"+Math.random()}) (document,screen)