1932  Los Angeles Summer Olympics

1932 Summer Olympics - About the Games

1932 Summer Olympics



Host City: Los Angeles, United States (July 30, 1932 to August 14, 1932)
Opening Ceremony: July 30, 1932 (opened by Vice-President Charles Curtis)
Taker of the Olympic Oath: George Calnan (athlete)
Closing Ceremony: August 14, 1932
Events: 131 in 18 sports

Participants: 1,922 (1,721 men and 201 women) from 47 countries
Youngest Participant: USA Ralph Flanagan (13 years, 241 days)
Oldest Participant: CAN George Gyles (54 years, 261 days)
Most Medals (Athlete): 3 athletes with 4 medals
Most Medals (Country): USA United States (110 medals)


The 1932 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the X Olympiad, was an international multi-sport event that was held from July 30 to August 14, 1932, in Los Angeles, California, United States.

The Games were held during the worldwide Great Depression and some nations were unable to pay for the trip to Los Angeles; 37 nations competed compared to 46 in the 1928 Summer Olympics in Amsterdam. Even U.S. President Herbert Hoover failed to put in an appearance at the Games.

The organizing committee did not record the finances of the Games in their report, although contemporary newspapers claimed that the Games had made a profit of US$1,000,000

Host city selection

The selection of the host city for the 1932 Summer Olympics was made at the 23rd IOC Session in Rome, Italy, in 1923. Remarkably, the selection process consisted of a single bid, from Los Angeles, and as there were no bids from any other city, Los Angeles was selected by default to host the 1932 Games.

Overview by


The Olympics came to America in 1932, but the depression and the travel distance from Europe kept the international turnout low. Less then half as many athletes competed as in 1928 as many nations sent only small squads. The Games saw the introduction of automatic timing in track & field, and an Olympic Village (although there had been a small one in 1924). The political situation was becoming a bit more tenuous in 1932, although that would only worsen in the ensuing decade. Japan had recently taken over the Chinese province of Manchuria, and tried to enter athletes in the Olympics from the state it called Manchukuo, but without success. In retaliation, China sent a lone athlete to the Olympics, [Liu Changchun], who ran in the [200 metres].

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The 1932 Olympic Games also saw the unveiling of a woman to rival the male feats of [Jim Thorpe]. [Mildred Ella "Babe" Didrikson] was an 21-year-old Texas tomboy in 1932. She was from Dallas and was heralded even before the Olympics. At the 1932 AAU Championships, her team, Employer's Casualty, won the team title. Babe was the entire team.

Restrictions on women's participation prevented Babe from showing her true colors. She was allowed to enter only three events, though no such restriction existed for men, and she had qualified by winning the American trials in the 80 metre hurdles, the high jump, and the javelin throw. At the Olympics, she won the [javelin throw], and won the [high hurdles] (in a virtual dead-heat with [Evelyne Hall] [USA]). She was second in the [high jump] although she tied for first with [Jean Shiley]. In the jump-off Didrikson was disqualified for diving over the bar head-first, although the technique was identical to the one she had used throughout the competition.

Had she been able to compete in more events, it is likely that Babe could have won medals in the discus throw, relay, and long jump. The 200 was not contested in 1932 but Babe would have been competitive in that event also. The women's pentathlon did not make the Olympic program until 1964, but Babe Didrikson would have won that event in 1932 more easily than Jim Thorpe won the decathlon in 1912. Thorpe was able to witness the deeds of the Texas wonder-woman. He could not afford a ticket to the Olympic events but was in Los Angeles. When U.S. Vice-President [Charles Curtis] heard of Thorpe's plight, he invited him to watch the Olympics in his private box, and Thorpe availed himself of the offer.

After the Olympics, Babe Didrikson took up golf and became the greatest women's player in that sport. She won the 1946 U.S. Women's Amateur and the 1947 British Ladies' Amateur and then turned professional. As a professional, she won the U.S. Women's Open in 1948, 1950, and 1954 (shortly before her death). From 1948 to 1951, she was the leading money winner on the LPGA circuit, the first four years of its existence, and she won 31 LPGA sanctioned events.

[Paavo Nurmi] also attempted to compete at the 1932 Olympics but did not. Shortly before the Games, on 3 April, the Executive Board of the IOC declared him a professional for having received money during a tour of Germany. He had planned to run the marathon in 1932 and it is almost certain that he would have won that race, had he been allowed to compete.

The 1932 Olympics ended emotionally with the huge crowd in the Los Angeles Coliseum joining the Olympic Chorus in singing "Aloha" as the sun set and the Games ended. Little did the world know that a peaceful Olympics would not be seen for 16 more years.


  • An Olympic Village was built for the first time, in Baldwin Hills, occupied by the male athletes. Female athletes were housed at the Chapman Park Hotel on Wilshire Boulevard.
  • The victory podium was used for the first time.
  • The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum was known in 1932 as Olympic Stadium.
  • Tenth Street, a major thoroughfare in Los Angeles, was renamed Olympic Boulevard in honor of the Games of the Tenth Olympiad.
  • Babe Didrikson won two gold medals in the javelin and the hurdles event. She also competed in a jump-off for a silver in the high jump. Her technique in the jump-off was ruled illegal, leaving Didrikson with second place.
  • Paavo Nurmi was suspended from competition by the IAAF for alleged violation of amateur rules. Finns charged that the Swedish officials had used devious tricks in their campaign against Nurmi's amateur status,[6] and ceased all athletic relations with Sweden. A year earlier, controversies on the track and in the press had led Finland to withdraw from the Finland-Sweden athletics international. After Nurmi's suspension, Finland did not agree to return to the event until 1939.
  • In field hockey, only three nations took part. The host nation lost both matches, 1–24 to India and 2–9 to Japan, but still won a bronze medal.
  • Poland's Stanisława Walasiewicz won the gold medal in the women's 100 m; she would also win the silver medal in the event four years later. After her death in 1980, it was discovered that she was intersex and would have been ineligible to participate.
  • Eddie Tolan won both the 100 m and 200 m sprint events.
  • Romeo Neri won three gold medals in gymnastics.
  • Helene Madison won three gold medals in swimming, while the Japanese upset the men's events and took all but one title.
  • Takeichi Nishi (Baron Nishi) was the gold medalist with his horse Uranus in the equestrian show jumping individual event. Nishi's gold medal is Japan's only gold medal in the equestrian event to this day. Nishi would later die in 1945 as an officer stationed in the defense of the island of Iwo Jima, and as such is an important character in Clint Eastwood's film, Letters from Iwo Jima.
1932 Summer Olympics logo.png
  • Kusuo Kitamura won the gold medal in the men's 1500 meter freestyle swimming race. He was and continues to be the youngest ever male swimmer to win a gold medal at the Olympic Games.
  • Dunc Gray won Australia's first cycling gold medal; he set a world record of 1m 13s in the 1000 time trial. The Dunc Gray Velodrome, built for the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, was named after him.
  • Due to an official's error, the 3,000 m steeplechase went for 3,460 m, or one extra lap


Medals awarded

Takeichi Nishi with Olympic steed, Uranus

117 events in 20 disciplines, comprising 14 sports, were part of the Olympic program in 1932. In one of two Equestrian jumping events (team competitions) no medals were awarded. The number of events in each discipline is noted in parentheses.

  • Aquatics
    • Diving (4)
    • Swimming (11)
    • Water polo (1)
  • Athletics (29)
  • Boxing (8)
  • Cycling
    • Road (2)
    • Track (4)
  • Equestrian
    • Dressage (2)
    • Eventing (2)
    • Show jumping (2)
  • Fencing (7)
  • Gymnastics (11)
  • Field hockey (1)
  • Modern pentathlon (1)
  • Rowing (7)
  • Sailing (4)
  • Shooting (2)
  • Weightlifting (5)
  • Wrestling
    • Freestyle (7)
    • Greco-Roman (7)

Demonstration sports

  • American football (1)
  • Lacrosse (1)


The Art competitions at the 1932 Summer Olympics awarded medals for works inspired by sport-related themes in five categories: architecture, literature, music, painting, and sculpture.


Fifteen sports venues were used for there 1932 Summer Olympics. In order to control cost in the wake of the Great Depression, existing venues were used. They included two golf courses, two city parks, three public highways, and a city road. The Swimming Stadium was the only new venue constructed for these games. The Rose Bowl, constructed in 1921, was made into a temporary velodrome for track cycling events under the auspices of the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI). The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, constructed in 1923, was used as the Olympic Stadium. The Olympic Auditorium was constructed in 1924 in preparation for Los Angeles being awarded the Games; it was modified to meet the specifications of the boxing, weightlifting, and wrestling federations
Long Beach Marine Stadium was created in 1925 when Alamitos Bay was dredged, then further dredged seven years later in time for the 1932 Games. Elysian Park, the oldest city park in Los Angeles, was founded in 1886, and has been part of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) training academy since 1925. The Rviera Country Club opened in 1926 as the Los Angeles Athletic Club Golf Course and was renamed Riviera by the time of the 1932 Games. The swimming stadium, constructed adjacent to the Coliseum in 1932, was intended to be a temporary structure. Riverside Drive, Los Angeles Avenue, Vineyard Avenue, and the Pacific Coast Highway were common driving routes in California at the time of the 1932 Games.

The Coliseum was the first home for the Dodgers Major League Baseball (MLB) team when it moved from Brooklyn, New York in the 1958 season. The following year, it hosted the MLB All-Star Game and the World Series.Once Dodger Stadium was completed in 1962, the Dodgers moved there where they have been since. The Los Angeles Rams National Football League (NFL) team used the Coliseum as its host stadium from 1946 to 1980 when it moved to Anaheim, located southeast of Los Angeles. It also hosted what would become known as Super Bowl I in 1967. Even the American Football League's Chargers used the Coliseum as a venue in 1960 until their move to San Diego the following year. The Coliseum continues to host USC Trojans football games to this day, and also hosted UCLA Bruins football for a number of years. The Rams return to the Coliseum in 2016.

The track constructed in the Rose Bowl was given to the Tournament of Roses Association upon completion of the 1932 Games. The Bowl was expanded between 1932 and the 1984 Summer Olympics three times, increasing its capacity from 83,000 in 1931 to 104,594 in 1972. It hosted Super Bowl XI in 1977, where the Oakland Raiders defeated the Minnesota Vikings 32–14. It is the current home of UCLA Bruins football and the Rose Bowl Game, and was the home of the L.A. Galaxy soccer team for a number of years.

Elysian Park's shooting range was left intact for the LAPD to use. Sunset Fields Golf Club was renamed Brentwood Country Club in 1941 and is still in use as of 2010. All of the road courses were returned to public usage after the Olympics. The Olympic Auditorium continued to be of use for boxing and roller derby events until June 2005 when it was bought to be used as a megachurch. Los Angeles Harbor continues to be a major sea port in the Western United States, employing 919,000 people and generating US$39.1 billion in annual wages and tax revenues as of 2007. The Riveria Country Club continues to host golf events, hosting the 1948 U.S. Open and the PGA Championship in 1983 and 1995. The Swim Stadium was renovated in 2003 and continues to be in use as of 2010.

For the 1984 Summer Olympics, the Coliseum and the Rose Bowl were used as venues
Venue Sports Capacity
160th Regiment State Armory Fencing, Modern pentathlon (fencing) 1,800
Los Angeles Harbor Sailing Not listed
Los Angeles Police Pistol Range Modern pentathlon (shooting), Shooting Not listed
Long Beach Marine Stadium Rowing 17,000
Los Angeles Avenue Cycling (road) Not listed
Olympic Auditorium Boxing, Weightlifting, Wrestling 10,000.
Olympic Stadium Athletics, Equestrian (eventing, jumping), Field hockey, Gymnastics 105,000
Pacific Coast Highway Cycling (road) Not listed
Riverside Drive at Griffith Park Athletics (50 km walk) Not listed
Riviera Country Club Equestrian (dressage, eventing), Modern pentathlon (riding) 9,500
Rose Bowl in Pasadena Cycling (track) 85,000
Sunset Fields Golf Club Modern pentathlon (running) Not listed
Swimming Stadium Diving, Modern pentathlon (swimming), Swimming, Water polo 10,000
Vineyard Avenue Cycling (road) Not listed
Westchester Equestrian (cross-country riding) Not listed

Participating nations

A total of 37 nations were represented at the 1932 Games. Colombia made its first appearance at the Olympic Games, and the Republic of China competed for the first time after its failed appearance at the 1924 Games.
Number of athletes Participants (blue = first-time)
Participating National Olympic Committees
  •  Argentina (32)
  •  Australia (12)
  •  Austria (19)
  •  Belgium (36)
  •  Brazil (82)
  •  Canada (102)
  •  Republic of China (1)
  •  Colombia (1)
  •  Czechoslovakia (7)
  •  Denmark (43)
  •  Estonia (2)
  •  Finland (40)
  •  France (103)
  •  Germany (134)
  •  Great Britain (108)
  •  Greece (10)
  •  Haiti (2)
  •  Hungary (58)
  •  India (19)
  •  Ireland (8)
  •  Italy (112)
  •  Japan (157)
  •  Latvia (2)
  •  Mexico (73)
  •  Netherlands (45)
  •  New Zealand (21)
  •  Norway (5)
  •  Philippines (8)
  •  Poland (51)
  •  Portugal (6)
  •  South Africa (12)
  •  Spain (6)
  •  Sweden (81)
  •  Switzerland (6)
  •  United States (474) (host)
  •  Uruguay (1)
  •  Yugoslavia (1)

Medal count

These are the top ten nations that won medals at the 1932 Games.

Rank Nation Gold Silver Bronze Total
1  United States (host nation) 41 32 30 103
2  Italy 12 12 12 36
3  France 10 5 4 19
4  Sweden 9 5 9 23
5  Japan 7 7 4 18
6  Hungary 6 4 5 15
7  Finland 5 8 12 25
8  Great Britain 4 7 5 16
9  Germany 3 12 5 20
10  Australia 3 1 1 5


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