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Published: November 20th 2017
Welcome to the home of the 1912 Olympic Games
A blog entry on TravelBlog about Stockholm Olympic Stadium?
But a stadium isn't a travel destination???
That's right, it isn't. But Stockholm
is a popular tourist destination and if you visit Stockholm you can actually visit Stockholm Olympic Stadium if you want to. We are writing this blog entry because we want to point out a little known place you can visit in Stockholm. If you read this blog entry through you might find that Stockholm Olympic Stadium is worth a visit. Actually you might find that it could be worth a visit even if you are not interested in sports
. Three arguments why we think Stockholm Olympic Stadium is worth a visit
Argument number 1: It is a genuine Olympic Stadium which you are allowed to enter, visit and even use as a sports facility. Most days of the year it is open from morning to evening, a visit is free of charge, there is no reservation required and you may run on the tracks if you want to. How many other Olympic Stadiums in the world are open for anyone to use?
The Olympic symbol and the three crowns of Sweden
The rings form the symbol of the Olympic games and the three crowns is a symbol of Sweden
Not many, if any.
Argument number 2: It is a very beautiful and interesting building. If you are into architecture you might find a visit rewarding.
Argument number 3: It is an important historical building.
Let us look a bit more at argument number three. In the history of the modern Olympic Games the 5th games, which was held in Stockholm, was very important and to us that is enough to make the main stadium used qualify as an important historical site.
The first modern Olympic Games was held in Athens in 1896. Only 241 athletes representing 14 countries participated, hence it was a very small sports event.
The following three games, held in Paris, St. Louis and in London respectively, were also nothing at all like the Olympic Games are these days. The games were stretched out over several months and the sport events were overshadowed by other things that went on in the host cities at the same time. Probably many who lived in the host cities weren't even aware that the Olympic Games were going on.
When it was time to decide the host city
"Welcome to Stockholm Stadium"
The text says "Welcome to Stockholm Stadium"
for the 1912 Summer Games the IOC at first couldn’t find any city willing. After three consecutive games had failed to get any attention and with no city willing to arrange the next games the IOC were ready to give up and accept that they had failed to revive the Olympic Games. Then at the last moment Stockholm decided to take on the task of hosting the games in 1912. The games in Stockholm, with 2,406 participants representing 28 countries, was bigger than any of the previous four games. But what made the 1912 Summer Games special in the Olympic history is that the games were held over a period of only three weeks thus making the Olympic Games for the first time an event which overshadowed other events going on at the same time. The Olympic Games was for a short time the thing
going on not some thing
In short the Stockholm Olympics is important in the history of the Olympic Games because
1 when Stockholm hosted the Olympic Games in 1912 no other city was interested. If Stockholm hadn't stepped in and accepted the challenge there wouldn't have been any fifth Olympic Games
The Marathon Gate
The Marathon Gate seen from inside the stadium
at all and that would have been the end of the modern Olympic Games.
2 The Stockholm Olympics set the standard for how to arrange Olympic Games, a standard which still is followed. Well the standard was actually not quite followed in the 1956 Summer Games. We'll write about that later because Stockholm Olympic Stadium was actually involved then too. Worth knowing about Stockholm Olympic Stadium
The architectural style of the building is called romantic nationalism.
A total of 83 athletics world records have over the years been set at Stockholm Olympic Stadium. That is more than at any other stadium in the world.
The stadium is still very much in use. Each summer many of the world's best track and field athletes arrive in Stockholm and compete for Diamond League titles. Also football is regularly played there.
Many concerts have been held at Stockholm Olympic Stadium. Bruce Springsteen, U2, Elton John, Dire Straits, Metallica and Iron Maiden are some examples.
The stand on the short end of the stadium, between the towers, has been rebuilt and today looks a bit different from what it did in 1912.
The towers and the field
The Sofia Tower on the left and the Clock Tower on the right, and the field seen from inside the Marathon Gate
covering the stadium were specially ordered and they were actually handmade.
The several sport inspired sculptures around the stadium were not there in 1912.They were installed in the 1930-ies.
Some of the pillars holding the roof are decorated with swastikas. They were painted there in 1912 and back then that symbol meant nothing sinister. Anecdotes and stories related to the 1912 Summer Olympics
American athlete Jim Thorpe won both the pentathlon and the decathlon. He was later stripped of both medals for violating amateurism regulations. In 1982 the IOC revoked the previous decision and posthumously reinstated him as the gold medallist in both events.
George Patton, who many years later became famous as a key figure in the Second World War, competed in modern pentathlon in the Olympic Games in 1912 and ended up in fifth place.
In the 1912 Olympics there were also official competitions in art. Gold medals were awarded in architecture, literature, music, painting and sculpture. You might laugh at this now but they actually competed in art in the Olympics as late as in London in 1948.
• Walter Winans from the United States won the gold
The Sofia Tower
The Sofia Tower as seen from the Clock Tower
medal in sculpture with "An American Trotter". You can see a photo of the original sculpture in this blog entry.
• Georges Hohrod and Martin Eschbach from Germany won the gold medal in literature with the poem "Ode to Sport". Later it turned out that Hohrod and Eschbach was a pseudonym and the author wasn't even from Germany. The man behind the work was the President of the IOC Pierre de Coubertin, the man who started the modern Olympic Games.
They competed in several other sports which since then have been discontinued as Olympic sports. One of those is tug of war. The original rope used in the tug of war competition today hangs on a wall in a staircase in one of the towers.
Wrestling had different rules back then and there was no time limit on how long a match could last. One of the wrestling matches lasted 11 hours and 40 minutes.
Oskar Swahn won a gold medal in one of the shooting events. He was then 64 years and 258 days old. He is still today the oldest gold medallist in the modern Olympic Games. He also competed in the Olympic Games
The Marathon Gate
The Marathon Gate in summer
in 1920 and he there won a silver medal. He was then 72 years old and that makes him the oldest competitor ever in the Olympic Games and of course also the oldest medallist in the Olympic Games.
The Portuguese long distance runner Francisco Lázaro competed in the marathon race. The marathon event was held on a very hot and sunny day and the Portuguese collapsed 30 km into the race. He was brought to hospital where he died the day after.
We can't end with such a sad story so we have saved a cute one for last - the one about the Japanese marathon runner Shizo Kanakuri. As we mentioned above the day of the marathon was hot. It was too hot for Shizo Kanakuri and he never finished the race. He actually left the course and went into a private garden and drank juice instead. When he had recovered enough to make it back to Stockholm he went directly to the hotel without notifying anyone that he had quit. The authorities listed him as "missing". Shizo Kanakuri went back to Japan, kept on competing in other races and after his career he led a normal
The Marathon Gate
The Marathon Gate in winter
life. In the 1960-ies someone located the notes from the race and saw that the Japanese runner was listed as "missing" not "DNF" (did not finish) as is customary. A Swedish TV team tracked down the former athlete in Japan and told him that since he never finished the race properly it might be argued that he technically was still in
the race. Because it made for such good television they brought him back to Sweden and in 1967 he ran the last section of the race. The time it took for him to finish the race was 54 years, 8 months, 6 days, 5 hours, 32 minutes and 20.3 seconds making it the slowest marathon race ever.
In 2012, one hundred years after the Olympic marathon race, a marathon race was held to celebrate the anniversary. The race followed the original course as much as possible and one of the competitors in that race was the Japanese Yoshiaki Kurado, Shizo Kanakuri's great-grandson. Olympic Games 1956
In 1956 Melbourne, Australia hosted the Olympic Games. The Australian quarantine regulations made it impossible for the equestrian events to be held together with the rest of the games.
Detail on the Clock Tower
On the Clock Tower there are two granite plaques with symbols representing various districts in Sweden
They were instead held in Stockholm and one of the venues was Stockholm Olympic Stadium.
If you visit Stockholm and you enjoy running we can strongly recommend you to visit Stockholm Olympic Stadium and run a few laps on the tracks. It is quite an experience, we promise. If you don't like running but find the blog interesting for other reasons don't hesitate to visit Stockholm Olympic Stadium if you have the time.
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