Breaking the latest chapter in the evolution of an Olympic sports program

Philip Barker

Last week, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced that a break as part of the 2024 Games in Paris would be the latest chapter in the evolution of the sports program over 125 years.

As has been the case recently, the sport was first seen under the Olympic umbrella at the Youth Olympic Games.

Competitors use sobriquets instead of their real names when dancing, and there is obviously an Olympic hero called “Bumblebee” or “Yell” – two of the names used at Buenos Aires 2018.

Breakthroughs are part of what the IOC defines as “an urban concept showcasing events aimed at young people that are inclusive, engaging and usable outside normal areas”.

When IOC President Thomas Bach’s Agenda 2020 was agreed in 2014, cities were given the opportunity to propose appropriate sports for their Games.

Therefore, basketball / softball has been introduced for Tokyo 2020 where the sports are very popular.

In addition, 3×3 basketball, skateboarding, surfing and sport climbing are all ready for the first time at the reorganized Games in July.

There will be 32 sports in Paris 2024, including the nine that were included when the Olympic Games were re-broadcast for the present day in 1896.

Back then, however, there were only 176 competitors and they were all male.

Breaking is an attractive addition to the 2024 Paris Olympic program © Getty Images
Breaking is an attractive addition to the 2024 Paris Olympic program © Getty Images

The decision to revive the Games was made in June 1894 at a Congress at the Paris Sorbonne, organized by the French nobility Baron Pierre de Coubertin.

Athens was chosen as the first host city for 1896 and the famous Greek letterman Demetrios Vikelas was the first President of the International Committee for the Olympic Games, a body soon to become IOC.

Coubertin became general secretary. Time was short and there was a lot of work to be done, and the temporary sports program was high on the list of priorities.

Transport records show that this issue has been debated. Boxing, ice skating and polo were mentioned but did not make the final cut.

Then, in November 1894, about 29 prominent Greek people gathered for an inaugural meeting in Athens.

The results of this collection were published in the third edition of the new journal of the International Committee of the Olympic Games, and included a list of sports for inclusion at the 1896 Games in the Greek capital.

These included a footpath known as a marathon, which was to be debated over a distance of 48 kilometers from Marathon to Athens. Michel Breal, a member of the Institut de France, offered a gold cup as a prize.

There was also a list of athletic events to be held in the stadium.

In those days there was no international governing body for athletics, so track events were to be run according to the rules of the “Union des Sociétés françaises de Sports Athlétiques”.

The site events were to be governed by the Amateur Athletic Association of England.

At Congress, it was suggested that a “general athletics competition called pentathlon should be introduced”.

This did not happen in 1896, but a contest of about ten events was later introduced.

Gymnastics and wrestling were also held in the stadium.

Emphasis was therefore the focus of that review by the IOC Governing Body in 2020.

The sports program for the 1896 Olympics in Athens was much debated © Getty Images
The sports program for the 1896 Olympics in Athens was much debated © Getty Images

It was not listed on the original temporary program but took place in the stadium in 1896. The format was slightly different back then, with coins awarded for one-handed and two-handed lifts. .

Fences, by rules designed by the “Société d’encouragement de l’Escrime” in Paris, were kept at the Zappianta, an impressive building a few meters away from the main stadium.

Although épée was listed in the originally planned program, the other events lasted longer than expected so no competitions were held.

Marine sports were also planned. This involved swimming, kept from an outdoor pontoon in the bay. Seawater in March 1896 does not appear to have been freezing cold.

Oars were also designed, with races being held according to the rules of the “Rowing Club Italiano”.

The regatta was to be held in Paller Bay but the weather on the appointed day took a special turn for the worse.

Initially, the organizers stopped racing until later in the day, but as the Games’ official official report records “unfortunately the bad weather turned into a real storm”.

“The elements continued to go so wildly that all ideas about boat racing had to be abandoned,” the report says.

Sailing was also canceled “because we didn’t have proper boats for this, and no foreigners happened for the competition”.

Equestrian events were also included in the plans for the Games.

They were mentioned at the Congress in Paris and were also on the list published in the magazine. The official report explained why no incidents occurred.

“Greece did not have its own horse and Athens did not have a racecourse,” wrote Timoleon Philemon, general secretary of the Organizing Committee.

“Putting out a course in such a short time was out of the question and the heavy costs of such a commitment must be taken into account. “

Cricket was introduced at the 1900 Olympics with a campaign for 2028 now underway © Getty Images
Cricket was introduced at the 1900 Olympics with a campaign for 2028 now underway © Getty Images

The 1896 organizers listed athletic “games” that were not to be confused with athletic “sports”. Cricket was mentioned and would be played “under the laws of the Marylebone Cricket Club”.

Despite Coubertin’s popularity of the sport, Athens was not going to be a “flannelled fool”, although a game was played in 1900 and there were first competitions in the plans for the 1908 Games.

U.S. Cricket is introduced at Los Angeles 2028 as a target, although much will depend on the opinion of the powerful Control Board for Cricket in India, which is to discuss the issue on Christmas Eve.

Tennis was the other “athletics game” listed.

In 1896, singles and male doubles were the only events questioned, although the pairs at the last event allowed a mix of nationalities.

This is a concept that has been tried in a number of sports at the Youth Olympics, although it has not yet been brought back to the Games themselves.

Tennis, both indoor and outdoor, was always present until 1924, after which it was removed from the program following disagreements over the definition of non-professional status.

It did not return for another 64 years, when it was reappeared, perhaps more than any other sport, as a symbol of the new Olympic era.

Paris hosted the last Games in 1924, and Paavo Nurmi won no gold peers in a separate cross country after a race held in extreme heat.

Cross-country accepted for Paris 2024 program © Getty Images
Cross-country accepted for Paris 2024 program © Getty Images

Although Nurmi appeared unscathed, other runners suffered, especially at a wall hurdle. One report described how Edvin Wide from Sweden “climbed to the top and then fell”.

With a “glass eye” and “weak limbs”, he went to the top again but again “fell back”.

He was a negative image for the sport and has not been questioned on the Olympic program since.

Many had hoped that he would return for Paris 2024. Like a breakout, a cross-country was introduced at the 2018 Buenos Aires Youth Olympic Games, but the IOC decided not to take it. into France.

The decision came as a shock to the World Athletics chagrin, who expressed their “dismay at not appearing at the 2024 Paris Olympics, even more so because of France’s cross-country heritage at the Paris Olympics. 1924 ”.