Games of the V Olympiad
5 May - 27 July 1912
A Model of Efficiency
The 1912 Olympic Games, held in Stockholm, were opened on Saturday 6 July 1912 by King Gustav V. They were a model of efficiency and set the standard for organisation for decades to come. For the first time new technology was used with electronic timing devices for the track and field events and the use of the first public address system. The success of these Games allowed the Olympic Movement to survive the interruption caused by World War I.
Games Facts & Figures
- For the first time, competitors came from all five continents.
- 28 nations
- 2,407 athletes (48 women; 2,359 men)
- 14 sports
- 487 foreign officials
- 260 foreign journalists
- A total of 327,288 spectators in the Olympic Stadium
Financing the Games
For the financing of the Games the Swedes found the unique formula that each sport had independent control of its economy. Allocations from the Swedish government or from general sports authorities were only granted to the various sport committees if a fixed budget was not exceeded. In the case of the equestrian competitions, the budget was set at Crowns 100,000 (=£5,550 or $27,750). The final figures were: income 123,539 Crowns; expenses 103,992 Crowns.
It is interesting to note that in 1912 a franchising system was already in place. Swedish firms could buy sole rights in connection with the Games, such as the sale of postcards, the hiring-out of field-glasses, or the sale of fans. All in all the fifth Olympic Games had a total income of Crowns 2.5 million (=£136,082 or =$680,410). The profit was Crowns 4,646.51.
First Olympic Equestrian Events
The Games of the V Olympiad were awarded to Stockholm, whose bid contained a proposal to hold equestrian events. It is interesting to note that in the official Stockholm report on the equestrian events it is stated that, “It was first at the Olympic Games of Stockholm that horse riding competitions were placed on the programme of the modern Olympiads.”
It was the Master of the Horse to the Swedish King and IOC member, Count Clarence von Rosen, who since 1906 had begun pushing for the inclusion of the horse in the Olympic Games. By the inclusion of military representatives, he argued, the Olympic Games would be strengthened and the various governments would show more interest. Baron de Coubertin and many IOC members were supportive and asked von Rosen to present a proposal for horse competitions. The programme included prize riding (dressage), a riding-pentathlon and jeu de rose.
The organisers of the 1908 Olympic Games in London were responsive and agreed to place horse-riding competitions on the programme of 1908. However, the British Olympic Council was not able to arrange the horse-riding competitions in the stadium. Consequently the newly-created Olympia Horse Show was contacted and agreed to hold the competitions in the Olympia Hall if six nations would enter at least four representatives. When eight nations entered a total of 88 competitors, the Olympia board found itself unable to carry out the programme.
To Pay or Not to Pay…Prize Money to Gentlemen Riders?
After Stockholm was given the task of organising the 1912 Olympic Games, the inclusion of horse riding was undisputed. It was von Rosen’s home country and as Royal Equerry he was a very influential personality. There was, however, one matter to be clarified: should prize money be paid out. The Swedish organising committee secured 50,000 crowns for this purpose. Then, on 11 June 1910, the IOC meeting in Luxembourg determined that only medals and no money prizes were to be awarded at the Games, in all sports. Professionals were excluded from the Games and only gentlemen riders were allowed - the definition of a gentleman rider being left to the regulations of the participating countries.
The Swedish Organising Committee realised that only a few international federations existed and, consequently, there were few universally accepted rules. They adopted the following procedure: if there were rules of an international sports federation or if there were rules adopted internationally, they would be used, such as for cycling, football, tennis, swimming or yachting. If such universally accepted rules did not exist, such as in horse riding, the Swedish organising committee would draw up the rules for the Games of 1912.
Consequently, Count Von Rosen re-thought the Olympic equestrian programme and came up with the three discipline set-up still in force today: Dressage, Eventing and Jumping. Von Rosen ignored driving, polo, vaulting and endurance riding. He also discarded the then very popular high-jump competition because it was mostly professional riders who were involved.