The significance of publicity need not be explained to anyone. 120 years ago at the Games of the First Olympiad that was completely different. That we have clear ideas of Athens 1896 is down to the German photographer Albert Meyer, whose pictures are published worldwide, mostly without people knowing who was responsible for them.
In our title story we talk about a congenial couple – consisting of a business-oriented photographer and IOC founder Pierre de Coubertin, who was inspired by Meyer’s photos and used them tactically to win over the European monarchs and the American public to support the Olympic Games. This proved by documents, mostly from the possessions of ISOH member and co-author Rüdiger Fritz.
And we direct our focus on Brazil, where on 5th August in Rio the Games of the XXXI Olympiad will begin. Who knows that a Brazilian city once before hoped to hold the Games? That was Brasília, whose candidature however failed in the early stages, as Marcia Neto-Wacker explains.
The Hawaiian Duke Kahanamoku is certainly among the most charismatic athletes ever to stride onto the Olympic stage. From David Davis we learn not just that this beach boy was the fastest swimmer in the world and made surfing popular, we read also of the obstacles Duke had to overcome, before his talent and his personality were recognised.
That one hundred years ago Olympic Games were supposed to take place in Berlin, but that they had to be cancelled because of the First World War, is part of general knowledge. It is however scarcely known – not even in Germany – that, before the Summer Games, a genuine Olympic Winter Sports week was due to be held for the first time in February 1916. The article by James R. Hines, who writes about the “Golden Age” of American figure skating which began in 1948 with Dick Button, fits the winter theme.
Peter Hamersley has occupied himself with the Olympic football matches that took place in Paris in 1900 and about which until now hardly anything was known. In addition we have lost and found. Barnabás Nagy tells the story of the Hungarian Elémer Somfay, who in 1924 won Olympic silver in the pentathlon, but who felt himself swindled of victory by an error of the judges. Richard Stanton announces an interesting find. He discovered the wall frieze with which the Italian painter Carlo Pellegrini was victorious in the Art Competitions of 1912.
The support of ISOH contributed to some extent to the fact that the Olympic champion of 1908, Emil Voigt, has now been accepted into the England Athletics Hall of Fame. Was there ever a Saarland Olympic team? This question too is answered in the Journal. Part 20 in the IOC series, obituaries and reviews round off this edition.
– Volker Kluge, Editor
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