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THE MEETING OF THE OLYMPIAN GAMES.

BY BARON PIERRE DE COUBERTIN.

The Olympian Games of ancient times brought the Greek world together every four years in the beautiful valley of Olympia, to contemplate a spectacle the uniformity of which seems to have constituted an additional charm in the eyes of the spectators. On starting, they knew beforehand almost exactly what they were going to see, and they delighted in the knowledge. In this respect, the inclination of the modern world is entirely different: our contemporaries take pleasure in variety and novelty, and for two reasons--first, because the facility and rapidity of our means of transport have intensified their curiosity; and, second, because, as the duration of their existence has not been prolonged in proportion to the number of objects soliciting their attention, they have not the leisure to see the same things twice.

When, nearly ten years ago, I conceived the plan of reviving the Olympian Games in a modern form, it was necessary for me to observe this tendency and take it into account. To-day, as in former times, the Olympian Games respond to a natural and healthy inclination of humanity: in all times and in all countries, if young men are active and in good health, they will be fond of manly games and competitions in which they display their strength and agility, and, incited by the instinct of emulation, they will desire to contend, in the name of their country, against young men of other lands. But, as regards the arrangement of these periodical festivals, the situation has changed, and the sole means of insuring their success and of rendering them as splendid and brilliant as possible consists in giving them a great variety of aspect.

This is the reason why the International Congress which met in Paris in June, 1894, decided, at my request, that each of the

new Olympiads should be celebrated in a different city of the world, and why Athens was chosen as the scene of the first Olympian meeting in 1896, and Paris as that of the second, four years later. Personally, I cannot repress a strong desire that the third Olympian Games, those of 1904, should take place at New York; then the distinctly cosmopolitan character of my enterprise will be clearly shown.

As concerns variety, I have good reason to rejoice; for nothing will resemble the festivals at Athens in 1896 less than those at Paris in 1900. We have not been drawn into the error of constructing a cardboard Stadium to reproduce that of Pericles, with the hill of Montmartre in the background to replace the Acropolis on its rock. This would have been ridiculous and paltry. We began by considering with good reason that there was no need to trouble ourselves about the preparation of amusements and special festivities, because the Exposition in itself would constitute a permanent festival full of attractions, and hence the organizing committee need only be engaged with the technical part of the sport in question. It happened that at Athens this point had been rather neglected, because the committee was also engaged with the interests of the spectators, and had to take measures for their amusement, for the decoration of the sights and monuments, and for the preparation of attractions of all kinds, in order to bring spectators together in as large numbers as possible and to detain them. Now the same anxiety does not exist, and the interests of the athletes predominate above all else.

I.

The Olympian organization created by the Congress of 1894 is very simple. It consists in an International Committee, of which I have the honor to be President, which numbers about twenty members belonging to the chief nationalities of Europe and America. These include, for example, Prince Serge Beliosselsky for Russia, Lord Ampthill for England, Count Brunetta d'Usseaux for Italy, Commandant Balck for Sweden, Baron de Tuyll for Holland, Professor William M. Sloane, of the University of Columbia, for the United States, etc. The whole business of the International Committee consists in promoting the celebration of the Games, and in deciding in what country they shall take place. This being done, the International Committee leaves the

immediate preparations for the Games to the sub-committee appointed for that purpose, contenting itself with seconding this sub-committee and supporting it abroad with all its influence. The committee which organized the Olympian Games at Athens in 1896 was not nominated by the government, but by the Crown Prince, who presided over it. That of 1900 has been appointed by the French Government, and is placed under the direction of a Delegate General, who is M. Merillon, a former deputy, now a magistrate, a most distinguished, agreeable and competent man. A statement of the plans for the preparation of the different competitions may interest my readers.

There are ten sections. The first comprises Athletic Sports and Games; the second, Gymnastics; the third, Fencing; the fourth, Shooting; the fifth, Equestrian Sports; the sixth, Cycling; the seventh, Motor Car Racing; the eighth, Aquatic Sports; the ninth, Firemen's Drill; the tenth, Ballooning. It might be objected to this classification that it comprises neither Alpine Climbing nor Skating; that, on the other hand, Firemen's Drill is not sport, and that balloons and the art of guiding them are still in their infancy. But it is impossible to obtain a faultless classification, or to contrive that all kinds of sport without exception should be seen at the same meeting. If, as has been suggested, Sweden should some day organize Olympian Winter Games in ice and snow, they will include Tobogganing, Snow-shoes and Skis, but they will be forced to exclude Cricket, Football and Foot Races. It is an amusing paradox to consider that, in order to render the Olympian Games complete, one would have to go to St. Moritz in the Swiss Engadine, where sun and snow agree all the winter so well that men skate in flannel slippers, and women open their parasols when going for a sleigh-ride. There, indeed, one might, if forced to do so, combine summer sports with those of winter.

Meanwhile, it is a question of spring in Paris, and the restrictions imposed by the place and climate must not be forgotten. On the other hand, the programme as it stands is sufficiently complete to provide most interesting competitions. Thus, the first section comprises athletic sports, foot races, jumping, etc., and games. The distances of the foot races are those of the French championships, in which the best English runners have taken part on several occasions within the last ten years. That is to say,

the distances are very nearly the same. If the "100 yards" has become with us 100 metres, and the "one mile" 1,500 metres (instead of 1609, the exact equivalent of the mile), the hurdle race corresponds exactly to the English distance; the hurdles are of the same height, and they are arranged in the same manner. As to the running competitions, the long and high jumps, polevaulting, and putting the weight, they are performed in identically the same fashion. The games entered as international are Football (Rugby and Association), Hockey, Cricket, Lawn Tennis, Croquet and Golf; there will also be a match at Bowls. All these games are played in France. There are others, such as Baseball, La Crosse, etc., of which exhibitions only can be given, as they are not played in France. For example, if the Americans resident in Paris succeed in forming a baseball team to play another team from America, this contest will receive the patronage and support of the Committee of the Exposition, which perhaps will give a prize; but it will necessarily retain an American-that is to say, a purely national-character.

Gymnastics are only open to foreign gymnasts as individuals. Gymnastic societies will not be invited to compete in groups, but only to send their best gymnasts to take part in the international championship, which will be individual. Several gymnastic festivals reserved for French societies only will take place during the course of the Exposition. This is a prudent decision; in adhering to it, no attempt has been made to exclude certain nations whilst admitting others, but the aim has been to avoid trouble and dispute. Gymnastic societies, to whatever country they belong, always behave in a more or less martial fashion; they march in military order, preceded by their national flag. After the troubled circumstances of late years, it would be a delicate affair to unite the flags of recent opponents upon the field of contest.

Fencing includes, of course, matches with foils, with sabres, and with swords. One can foresee a fine contest, in which the French and Italian schools will be opposed, and will establish in a sensational manner their respective merits. Boxing will, of course, be subdivided into English and French boxing, it being impossible to combine the two methods, as has been sufficiently proved by the recent match which took place in Paris between Charlemont, our best French boxing champion, and Driscoll, a second-rate English boxer. The contest will, no doubt, give rise

to some difficulty with regard to the rules to be observed, for these are not yet drawn up with all the clearness desirable.

Then follow the Equestrian and Aquatic sports, i. e., polo, and rowing, sailing and swimming matches. There had been some question of having an equestrian competition in the real sense of the term, but the difficulties of transporting valuable horses, especially during Exposition time, are so great that the idea has been abandoned. There will be target-shooting, pigeon-shooting, archery, and shooting with the cross-bow and with firearms. For cyclists there will be a whole week of track-racing, preceded by a sensational twenty-four hours' race. Lastly, the seventh, ninth and tenth sections will include motor-car races, competitions of sappers and firemen, free balloon races, and trials of carrierpigeons. All this is doubtless interesting; only it is not pure sport, and for that reason I shall pass it over in this paper.

II.

To judge by the series of letters I have received for many months, American athletes appear to be desirous of participating in large numbers in the Olympian Games on the banks of the Seine; and, as the opportunity of imparting information is afford, ed me by the NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW, I wish to take advantage of it by replying as far as possible to all the questions that I have been asked. These questions are generally the following: What will the competitions consist of? Who will organize them? When and where will they take place? Will they be reserved for amateurs? As to the first question I have already given an explanation. On the second, there is only one word to add-the business of preparing the competitions of 1900 has been assigned to the most competent individuals and societies. For a time the directors of the Exposition appeared to be wanting in interest for sport. Thereupon, a private committee was formed with the object of organizing the Olympian Games, since the Exposition seemed on the point of renouncing them. Last spring, or rather later, the point was reconsidered, and it was decided that sporting competitions should form part of the Exposition in some way or other.

But the Directors, not having the necessary competence, appealed to the societies. This appeal was answered, and with striking unanimity; offers were made to assist the Official Organiz

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