Published July 27, 2021by Aisha Villegas (Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision)
With the Tokyo Olympic Games underway, we look back to one of the Olympic Games that saw a number of important milestones - the 1928 Olympic Games in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
Amsterdam hosted the Olympic Games July 28 to August 12 1928. A total of 46 nations were represented by 2,883 athletes, including 277 women.
The 1928 Games were memorable because they introduced a series of Olympic firsts: the number of female competitors more than doubled, Asian athletes won gold medals for the first time and the Olympic flame made its first appearance in the modern era.
An Olympic of firsts
During the Opening Ceremony and, for the first time, the Parade of Nations started with the team from Greece, which holds the origins of the Olympics, and ended with the host team - the Dutch - marching in last. This tradition - Greece-first, hosts-last - has been part of the Olympic Games ever since.
The 1928 Games were also the first to introduce Coca-Cola as a sponsor. At the time, the company sent a boatload of 1,000 crates of the soda to accompany the U.S. athletes to Amsterdam. The Coca-Cola Company is the longest-standing partner of the Olympic Movement that continues until this day.
The Olympic Flame
The idea for the Olympic flame comes from ancient Greece, where a sacred fire was kept burning throughout the celebration of the ancient Olympics on the altar of the sanctuary of Hestia.
In 1928, for the first time, a symbolic fire was lit during the Games of the modern era. The fire was lit in a cauldron that was placed at the top of a tower in the stadium in Amsterdam, which had been designed by renowned Dutch architect, Jan Wils.
The Olympic flame has been part of the Summer Olympics ever since. The torch relay, however, would not take place until the 1936 Summer Olympics.
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Despite objections - including the former president of the International Olympic Committee, Baron Pierre de Coubertin - the 1928 Olympics saw the introduction of women's events in the athletics and gymnastics programme.
Five women's athletics events were added: 100 metres, 800 metres, high jump, discus, and 400 metre hurdles.
The winner of the 800 metres was Lina Radke-Batschauer on Germany's return to the Olympics after a 16-year absence caused by World War I and then having had to serve a 10-year probation for its part in that conflict.
However, at the end the race was spoiled when many of her competitors finished in a state of exhaustion. Women were not allowed to run so far again in the Olympics until 1960.
Athletes from 28 different nations won gold medals in Amsterdam, a record that would last for 40 years.
For the first time, Asian athletes won gold medals. Mikio Oda of Japan won the triple jump, while his teammate, Yoshiyuki Tsuruta, won the 200m breaststroke.
Athlete Kinue Hitomi was the first woman to represent Japan at the Olympics, the only female athlete for Japan in 1928. She entered a number of events, winning silver in the 800 metres race.
The team from India also swept to victory in field hockey, beginning a streak of six consecutive gold medals in the sport.
An international traffic sign is born
Like other cities around Europe in the late 1920s, the streets of Amsterdam were filling up fast with cars. During the Games, this issue was more pressing than ever as Amsterdam had limited car parking spaces. The organisers were forced to look for a way to solve this issue quickly.
As a solution, a number of new parking sites were provided and a special parking symbol was launched to show foreign visitors where they could park. The white P on a blue background was to become the international traffic sign for parking, which is still used today.
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