Games of the VII Olympiad
14 August - 12 September 1920
World War I had only just ended in 1918 and there were serious doubts that the Games of VII Olympiad in 1920 would be able to go ahead. It was only on 3 April 1919 that the IOC decided to accept the offer from Antwerp, Belgium, with a programme very similar to Stockholm 1912.
On 14 August 1920 King Albert declared the seventh Olympic Games opened.
When it came to results in the equestrian events, Sweden’s solid and meticulous preparations were well rewarded, as they effectively picked up more than half of the 15 medals at stake, and confirmed their stronghold on the sport, already demonstrated in 1912. Indeed, they won four of the five gold medals: team Jumping, individual Dressage, team and individual Eventing; along with two silver and two bronze.
This was also the first and last appearance of Vaulting on the Olympic programme, which was open to non-commissioned officers. Belgium, France and Sweden participated while the Swiss, who where all set and ready to go, were stopped at the last minute by the Swiss government due to an alleged outbreak of foot and mouth disease in Belgium.
The short term allocation of the Games to Antwerp did leave some in the lurch such as team USA who, at first unable to find a passage to Europe at that late stage, were able to secure the help of the military to transport the team. The steamer they intended to use was however damaged at the last minute and they finally sailed in a much smaller ship which arrived one week later – on 8 August, barely a week before the competitions began.
Despite these shortcomings, the Games were a success. However, it was the lack of uniform rules for most of the sports that was perceived as the greatest threat to the Olympic movement which Pierre De Coubertin decided to overcome by calling in Lausanne in May 1921, a meeting of all interested sports to discuss universal rules and to form International Federations. The date at which the FEI came into being.
Games Facts & Figures
- 29 nations
- 2,626 athletes (65 women; 2,561 men)
- 22 sports
- First use of the Olympic flag with the five rings signifying the union of five continents, created by Baron de Coubertin.
- First time a competitor took the Olympic oath.
- First release of doves as a symbol of peace.