1912  Stockholm Summer Olympics

1912 Summer Olympics - About the Games

1912 Summer Olympics



Host City: Stockholm, Sweden (May 5, 1912 to July 27, 1912)
Opening Ceremony: July 6, 1912 (opened by King Gustav V)
Closing Ceremony: July 27, 1912
Events: 107 in 17 sports

Participants: 2,409 (2,356 men and 53 women) from 29 countries
Youngest Participant: SWE Greta Carlsson (14 years, 1 days)
Oldest Participant: SWE Oscar Swahn (64 years, 258 days)
Most Medals (Athlete): SWE Vilhelm Carlberg (5 medals)
Most Medals (Country): SWE Sweden (65 medals)

 From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The 1912 Summer Olympics (Swedish: Olympiska sommarspelen 1912), officially known as the Games of the V Olympiad, were an international multi-sport event held in Stockholm, Sweden, between 5 May and 22 July 1912.

Twenty-eight nations and 2,408 competitors, including 48 women, competed in 102 events in 14 sports. With the exception of tennis (starting on 5 May) and football and shooting (both starting on 29 June), the games were held within a month with an official opening on 6 July. It was the last Olympics to issue solid gold medals and, with Japan's debut, the first time an Asian nation participated. Stockholm was the only bid for the games, and was selected in 1909.

The games were the first to have art competitions, women's diving, women's swimming, and the first to feature both the decathlon and the new pentathlon, both won by Jim Thorpe. Electric timing was introduced in athletics, while the host country disallowed boxing. Figure skating was rejected by the organizers because they wanted to promote the Nordic Games. United States won the most gold medals (25), while Sweden won the most medals overall (65).

 1912 Summer Olympics poster.jpg
Poster for the 1912 Summer
Olympics, designed by Olle Hjortzberg

Overview by


After the problems of 1908, the pseudo-Olympics of 1900 and 1904, the meager international participation of 1896 and 1906, Stockholm, Sweden should be credited with the first truly modern Olympic Games of Olympic proportions. But probably more than any other Olympics, they belonged to one person.

[Jim Thorpe] was a Sac and Fox Indian from Oklahoma, who was known by the Indian name of “Wa-tho-huck,” meaning Bright Path. Thorpe had attended the Carlisle Indian School, where he was a natural athlete, considered the greatest college football player in the nation by many experts. On the track he usually helped Carlisle win meets by competing in, and winning, five or more events. He could do everything. Eventually he would play major league baseball for five years and, well past his prime, he would be a star in the nascent National Football League.

In 1912, Thorpe decided to compete in the two new Olympic events testing the all-around abilities of the track & field athletes – the decathlon of ten events, and pentathlon of five events. His victories were laughable. In the decathlon he set a world record that would not be broken for 16 years, although it was his first (and only) try at the event. His marks would have been good enough to win a silver medal in 1948 – 36 years later. In the pentathlon, he won outright three of the five events contested. That was not enough for Thorpe. He also competed in the individual high jump, finishing 4th, and the individual long jump, finishing 7th.

When awarded his prizes by [King Gustav V], the King supposedly said, “Sir, you are the greatest athlete in the world.” Thorpe’s reply was supposedly, “Thanks, King.” The King of Sweden knew whereof he spoke.

In 1913, [Roy Johnson], of the Worcester Telegram & Gazette in Worcester, Massachusetts, saw a picture of Thorpe in a baseball uniform. The picture was in the office of a Rhode Island man who owned a minor league baseball team. Johnson pursued the story and found that in 1909 and 1910 Thorpe had played minor league baseball with the Rocky Mount Railroaders in North Carolina. When the AAU found out, they reported this to the IOC. Thorpe was stripped of his medals. The official report of the 1912 Olympics mention’s Thorpe’s name only in a few places where it was obvious they failed to delete it. Details are not given of his decathlon and pentathlon victory.

Thorpe admitted that he had played minor league baseball. It was common for college athletes to do that in that era, but most of them played under pseudonyms to protect their amateur status. Thorpe was a bit naive and did not know he should do this. When he was accused of professionalism by the AAU, after the story broke, he wrote, “I did not play for the money there was in it because my property brings me in enough money to live on, but because I liked to play ball. I was not wise in the ways of the world and did not realize this was wrong, and that it would make me a professional in track sports ...”

But no appeal by Thorpe could help in 1913. His medals were taken from him, and given to Sweden’s [Hugo Wieslander], runner-up in the decathlon, and Norway’s [Ferdinand Bie], who finished second in the pentathlon. Over the next 70 years, multiple appeals were made on behalf of Thorpe to the IOC. The IOC would not listen. Seventy years later, in 1982, the IOC finally relented and restored the medals to Thorpe’s family – he had died in 1953. On 18 January 1983 in Los Angeles, the gold medals were presented to his children. Based on his accomplishments, they were simply restoring long-overdue medals to the memory of a man who was best described by the King of Sweden – he was the greatest athlete of all time. The 1912 Olympics were a beautiful festival – they stand as a monument to his memory.


Host selection

Following the 1908 Summer Olympics in London, the authorities in Sweden immediately sought to ensure that the next games would be held there. There were two Swedish members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) at the time, Viktor Balck and Clarence von Rosen. The pair proposed to the Swedish governing bodies of athletics and gymnastics in order to ensure that they backed any potential bid. Support was given by the national associations on 18 April 1909 for a bid to host the Olympics in Stockholm on the basis that suitable financial arrangements could be made.[3] King Gustaf V was petitioned on 6 May 1909 following the publication of preliminary plans for the Stockholm bid that the expected cost of hosting the Games would be 415,000 kronor (£23,050 or $115,250). The Government accepted the petition on behalf of the King and supported the bid.

On 28 May, at the meeting of the IOC in Berlin, the Swedish representatives declared that they had full financial support for hosting the next Games in Stockholm. A deal was made with the German IOC representative on the basis that Berlin would host the 1916 Summer Olympics. Pierre de Coubertin spoke at the meeting about his concerns that Sweden should ensure that the Games take place, as he did not want a repeat of the problems with Italy hosting the 1908 Games. He also expressed a desire that "the Games must be kept more purely athletic; they must be more dignified, more discreet; more in accordance with classic and artistic requirements; more intimate, and, above all, less expensive."[4] The Games were duly awarded to Sweden to host in Stockholm as the only nominated host city for the 1912 Summer Olympics.

Coubertin wanted the 1912 Games to be "more dignified" than those of 1908


The news that Stockholm was to host the 1912 Olympics was received with enthusiasm by the Swedish public. The organizing committee took de Coubertin's words to heart, and aimed to achieve an Olympic Games which removed those elements which detracted from earlier Games. The committee was elected in the autumn of 1909, with Balck voted as the President of the committee, and Crown Prince Gustaf Adolf selected as Honorary President. The committee's first meeting took place on 7 October, and on 11 October they delegated the arrangements for the individual branches of sports to the relevant governing bodies in Sweden. There were four exceptions to this, with the game shooting, modern pentathlon and mountain ascents retained by the Olympic committee, and the horse riding competitions being organized by Prince Carl, Duke of Västergötland, who was the inspector of the Swedish cavalry. Altogether there were 187 members of these committees.The official invitation to compete in the Games was issued on 18 November 1910 to 27 countries, either directly or through their representative on the IOC. A further 15 countries were to have been invited, but as they had no IOC representatives, the Swedish authorities were unsure how to proceed. Once the organizing committee for the Games received confirmation of the athletic associations in each of the 15 countries, they too were sent invitations. Some 61,800 entry forms were printed for the use of the various nations.

Free transport was arranged for the invited nations' equipment, and a discount of 50 percent was arranged for competitors and delegates on the state run railway. A daily newspaper which only covered the Olympics was arranged to be published during the Games, in both English and Swedish. Further arrangements were made for the general arrival of visitors in order to entertain them whilst they were not at the Games; a pleasure garden was opened north of the Olympic Stadium, and a series of indoor tennis courts were converted into a restaurant.


Twelve sports venues were used in the 1912 Summer Olympics. This marked the first time that more than one venue would be used for the football tournament, which has been the case ever since. Stockholm Olympic Stadium served as one of the equestrian venues for the 1956 Summer Olympics. Råsunda Stadium served as a venue for the 1958 FIFA World Cup and the 1995 FIFA Women's World Cup. In the initial bid document it was identified that a new stadium would be needed, initially envisaged as being located in the Östermalm Athletic Grounds. In order to save funds, it was expected that only one of the stadium's stands would be permanent, with the other three made of wood and dismantled following the Games. The cost of that stadium was estimated at 235,000 Kronor. Arrangements were made with the individual national committees to provide the use of Östermalm Athletic Grounds and Traneberg.

The front gate of the Stockholm

Olympic Stadium, which was

built for the 1912 Games

The cycling road race was held around Mälaren, the third largest lake in Sweden. The water events, including the swimming and the rowing, were held at Djurgårdsbrunnsviken, where a stadium was built. Kaknäs was already used as a shooting range, but alterations were needed to accommodate shooting events. Although it was not used as the Olympic stadium as originally intended, Östermalm hosted the lawn tennis and fencing competitions after a tennis pavilion was moved there from another location.

Five other locations were considered in addition to the Östermalm Athletic Grounds to locate the Olympic Stadium. The Stockholm Olympic Stadium was built on the site of the former Stockholm Athletic Grounds in order to retain the other locations for other uses during the Games. By placing it to the north of the city, the Olympic Stadium was within the immediate vicinity of other pre-existing sporting venues. Initial funding was given to the sum of 400,000 Kr for a timber stadium but Torben Grut, the architect, also drew up alternative plans for a stone stadium. Following discussions with the Swedish Central Association for the Application of Athletics, it was decided that the stone version should be built, and further funds were made available through a national lottery once guarantees were made that no further funding was to be asked for in order to build the stadium. However it was found that the original estimate for the stone stadium would still be too expensive, and the plans were once more modified in order to simplify the design and reduce costs. An agreement was entered into with a contractor on 2 November 1910 that it would be transferred complete by 25 May 1912.

Venue Sports Capacity
Barkarby Modern pentathlon (riding) Not listed.
Djurgårdsbrunnsviken Diving, Modern pentathlon (swimming), Rowing, Swimming, Water polo Not listed.
Fältrittklubben Equestrian (eventing endurance) Not listed.
Kaknäs Modern pentathlon (shooting) Not listed.
Liljeholmen Cycling, Equestrian Not listed.
Lindarängen Equestrian (eventing steeplechase) Not listed.
Mälaren Cycling Not listed.
Nynäshamn Sailing Not listed.
Råsunda IP Football, Shooting Not listed.
Stockholm Olympic Stadium Athletics, Equestrian, Football (football), Gymnastics, Modern pentathlon (running), Tug of war, Wrestling 33,000
Tranebergs Idrottsplats Football Not listed.
Östermalm Athletic Grounds Equestrian, Fencing, Modern pentathlon (fencing), Tennis Not listed.

Opening ceremony

The Games of the V Olympiad were opened on 6 July 1912. The Swedish Royal Family left Stockholm Palace at 10:40am, and were received at the Olympic Stadium by members of the IOC. Three thousand competing athletes had already assembled in the nearby Östermalm Athletic Grounds, and began to enter the stadium in alphabetical order by nation according to the Swedish spelling. The Swedish team entered last, but unlike the later tradition, the Greek team did not enter first.

The Swedish team parading in the stadium during the opening ceremony

A hymn was sung, a traditional Swedish chant was conducted and prayers were read first in Swedish and then in English. Crown Prince Gustaf Adolf addressed the King on behalf of the Swedish Olympic Association. King Gustav V then declared the Games officially open by a long speech:

It is with legitimate joy and pride that we Swedes see athletes from every part of the world gathered here with us. It is a great honour for Sweden that Stockholm has been chosen as the scene of the Fifth Olympiad, and I bid all of you, athletes and friends of athletics, a most hearty welcome to this friendly contest of the nations. May the grand thought that found expression in the Olympic Games in classic times be so held in honour by our age too, that these competitions may become a powerful means to promote the physical health and development of every people. With these words, I herewith declare the Olympic Games of Stockholm opened.

— King Gustav V, 

Afterwards a trumpet fanfare was played and the Crown Prince called for cheers for the King. The athletes in their national groups marching out of the stadium in order ended the ceremony.


The Swedish delegation at the IOC meeting in Berlin on 28 May 1909 had proposed a simple Olympic schedule containing only "pure" athletics, swimming, gymnastics and wrestling. However other countries requested that the schedule be more comprehensive,[36] and with that in mind they put forward a further programme at the IOC meeting in 1911 which was met with approval. The sports which were added were the tug of war, cycling, fencing, football, horse riding, lawn tennis, rowing, shooting, skating and yacht racing.[37][38] The question of adding skating to the programme was discussed once more on 7 February 1910, with the decision being made to drop it from the schedule. It was felt to be unsuitable because it was a winter sport, and it was to be part of the Nordic Games the following year.[38] Boxing was removed from the programme as it was unappealing to the Swedes.[39] Art competitions were considered at a further meeting on 14 February 1910,[38] and were subsequently added to the programme,[40] but now art competitions are no longer regarded as official Olympic events by the International Olympic Committee. As a result, now the 1912 Summer Olympics programme considered composed of 14 sports encompassing 18 disciplines and 102 events. The number of events in each discipline is noted in parentheses.

Axel Nordlander, who won two gold medals for Sweden in the dressage
  • Aquatics
    • Diving (4)
    • Swimming (9)
    • Water polo (1)
  • Athletics (30)
  • Cycling (2)
  • Equestrian
    • Dressage (1)
    • Eventing (2)
    • Show jumping (2)
  • Fencing (5)
  • Football (1)
  • Gymnastics (4)
  • Modern pentathlon (1)
  • Rowing (4)
  • Sailing (4)
  • Shooting (18)
  • Tennis (8)
  • Tug of war (1)
  • Wrestling (5)
The final moments of the men's 100 metre final

Participating nations

Twenty-eight nations competed at the 1912 Games. Egypt participated for the first time, as did Iceland, Portugal, and Serbia. Japan also made their Olympic debut, marking the first appearance of an Asian country at an Olympic Games. Chile made its first appearance as a national team, with fourteen athletes attending the Games, although it had previously entered one individual at the 1896 Games. This was also the first time that athletes from Armenia had competed in the Olympics, as part of the team from Turkey (the officially recognised name for the Ottoman Empire). Serbia's appearance was the only time it attended an Olympic Games as an independent nation until the 2008 Summer Olympics, almost one hundred years later.

This was the last Olympics that allowed "private entries", i.e. individual athletes that were not part of a country's officially selected team. Arnold Jackson was one such private entry; he won the 1500 metres by 0.1 seconds, ahead of an American trio who had been strong favourites, in what was acclaimed at the time to be "the greatest race ever run"
Participants; blue: first time. Yellow dot: Stockholm
Number of athletes
Participating National Olympic Committees
  •  Australasia (26)
  •  Austria (85)
  •  Belgium (36)
  •  Bohemia (39)
  •  Canada (36)
  •  Chile (14)
  •  Denmark (152)
  •  Egypt (1)
  •  Finland (164)
  •  France (112)
  •  Germany (187)
  •  Great Britain (279)
  •  Greece (22)
  •  Hungary (119)
  •  Iceland (2)
  •  Italy (68)
  •  Japan (2)
  •  Luxembourg (21)
  •  Netherlands (33)
  •  Norway (191)
  •  Portugal (6)
  •  Russian Empire (159)
  •  Serbia (2)
  •  South Africa (21)
  •  Sweden (444) (host)
  •  Switzerland (7)
  •  Turkey (2)
  •  United States (174)

Medal count

These are the top 10 nations that won medals at the 1912 Games. The medals themselves included solid gold medals, the last time these were given out.

Rank Nation Gold Silver Bronze Total
1  United States 25 19 19 63
2  Sweden (host nation) 24 24 17 65
3 United Kingdom Great Britain 10 15 16 41
4  Finland 9 8 9 26
5  France 7 4 3 14
6  Germany 5 13 7 25
7  South Africa 4 2 0 6
8  Norway 4 1 4 9
9  Canada 3 2 3 8
 Hungary 3 2 3 8


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