Olympics during a pandemic| Antwerp 1920 Summer Olympics haunted by war & flu pandemic | Chronicleplanet.com


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Olympics during a pandemic| Antwerp 1920 Summer Olympics haunted by war & flu pandemic

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FILE - In this Aug. 26, 1920, file photo, the Olympics are held at the Antwerp Stadium, showing the U.S. contingent leading all the athletes in the procession around the field on, after which they proceeded to lead all competition in the athletic events. (AP Photo/File)

When the Olympic Games resumed after World War I, the occasion was not designed to flee the horrors of war. The Antwerp Games have been used to recollect.

Belgium hosted after being a battleground two years earlier than. Many athletes have been veterans. The opening ceremony celebrated the navy may as a lot as peace.

On their method into Antwerp’s Beerschot Stadium, attendees walked previous a statue of a Belgian soldier throwing a grenade, then heard artillery salutes punctuate the ceremony. The Belgian fencer who took the Olympic oath to compete “in a spirit of chivalry, for the honor of our country and for the glory of sport” was Victor Boin, an air power pilot, flanked by two troopers.

Many Olympians from the final video games in 1912 had been killed or wounded during the war when beginner gentleman athletes flocked to function navy officers. Yet extra athletes have been killed by the Spanish Flu pandemic that ravaged the world quickly after.

In Antwerp, a new technology of athletes got here to the fore. The Olympics have been nonetheless very a lot centered on white, male athletes from privileged backgrounds, however instances have been slowly altering.

Female athletes overcame social disapproval and resistance from some Olympic officers to compete, and Japan gained the primary medals for an unbiased Asian nation.


Of the roughly 2,600 athletes, solely about 60 have been girls. But French tennis participant Suzanne Lenglen transcended the Olympics as a world star.

Nicknamed “La Divine,” she was a nationwide hero and a family title around the globe. The girls’s trophy on the French Open and the second-largest court docket each bear her title.

In Antwerp, Lenglen didn’t drop a recreation in her first three singles matches and didn’t drop a set all match in her run to the gold medal. She added gold within the blended doubles and bronze within the girls’s doubles.

Illness meant Lenglen couldn’t defend her title on dwelling soil on the subsequent Olympics in Paris in 1924, the final time the game can be on this system till 1988.

Tennis in Antwerp was additionally a breakthrough for variety, as Japan gained its first medals. Ichiya Kumagae gained silver in males’s singles and added a doubles silver with Seiichiro Kashio. No unbiased Asian nation had gained a medal earlier than, although India had gained two silvers in 1900 beneath British rule.


The Winter Olympics have been but to be invented, so ice hockey joined the Games in a program in any other case full of summer time sports activities. Canada gained the inaugural males’s hockey gold medal, but it surely was a Canadian staff with a twist.

Team Canada was really the Winnipeg Falcons, an beginner staff arrange by Icelandic immigrants. Their title was taken from a falcon on Iceland’s previous coat of arms at a time when it was nonetheless a part of Denmark.

With future two-time Stanley Cup winner Frank Fredrickson as captain, the Falcons demolished the opposition in Antwerp, beating Czechoslovakia 15-0, the United States 2-0. The Falcons’ shutout run ended within the gold-medal recreation in opposition to Sweden however they nonetheless gained 12-1.

Hockey and determine skating have been held a full 4 months earlier than the opposite sports activities in an Antwerp rink referred to as the Ice Palace. The International Olympic Committee drew on that have when it created an “international winter sports week” in Chamonix, France, in 1924. That was later formally acknowledged as the primary Winter Olympics.


These days Finland is greatest identified for its hockey gamers and cross-country skiers, however in 1920 it was the undisputed distance-running superpower.

In this 1920 file picture, Charles (Charley) Paddock, second from proper, of the USA wins the 100 meters ultimate along with his well-known “flying finish” on the 1920 Summer Olympics in Antwerp, Belgium. Morris Kirksey, far proper, of the USA was second, and Jackson Scholz of USA, left, was fourth. Third place Harry Edward not proven. (AP Photo)

Hannes Kolehmainen had gained three gold medals in 1912 and cemented his place in historical past by profitable the 1920 marathon in world document time regardless of heavy rain making the course muddy. Antwerp was the 12 months when Kolehmainen metaphorically handed the torch to a different all-time nice, his fellow Finn Paavo Nurmi. Aged 23, Nurmi gained three gold medals in Antwerp and would later win six extra.

When Finland held the Olympics in 1952, Nurmi handed the torch again — actually. Nurmi carried the Olympic torch into the stadium in Helsinki during the opening ceremony and handed it over for Kolehmainen to mild the flame.


Most Olympic champions want coaching, willpower and luck to win the gold. In 1920 it was sufficient simply to show up.

Norwegian sailors gained 5 gold medals in Antwerp fully unopposed after no different crews entered their occasions. They nonetheless needed to sail out alone on the water, around the buoys and cross the road with out sinking to earn a gold medal.

Out of 13 completely different crusing competitions, just one featured greater than three boats, that means virtually everybody went dwelling with a medal. One occasion was a shootout between two Dutch crews, who have been allowed to complete off the competition again dwelling within the Netherlands.

With the Tokyo Olympics postponed for a 12 months due to the coronavirus pandemic, right here is a look again on the historical past of the Summer Games. This story was printed within the St. Albans (Vermont) Daily Messenger newspaper on August 23, 1920. The story is printed because it seems within the newspaper, utilizing the modern fashion and any printed errors. The marathon winner was Hannes Kolehmainen, not Kolehminen, and his challenger within the race was Chris Gitsham, not Charles Gitsham.