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Paris 1924 - Overview

The first Olympic village

France drew a veil under the poor impression left by its hosting of the 1900 Games when it staged the 1924 event between May 4 and July 27, a year before 61-year-old Pierre de Coubertin stood down as IOC president in favour of the Belgian count, Henri de Baillet-Latour.

The choice of the French capital as host of the Games was not a smooth affair, however. The memory of the 1900 debacle prevented many IOC members from initially submitting their full support, opting for either Los Angeles or Amsterdam.

A major occurrence did take place at these Games, however - the IOC's decision to host a Winter Olympic Games as of 1924. Chamonix was chosen as the first host city.

After Chamonix, Paris offered 3,070 athletes from a record 44 countries purpose-built sites, including the first Olympic village, the 60,000 seat Colombes stadium in the suburbs of Paris, and the first purpose-built Olympic pool in Tourelles in the heart of the capital.

With 99 medals (45 gold), the United States regained the lead at the top of the medals table. But the exploit of the Games came courtesy of Finland's Paavo Nurmi, winner of five gold medals in athletics.

Other notable figures included the English sprinter Harold Abrahams and the American swimmer Johnny Weissmuller, who would later star as Tarzan in the cinema and become one of the biggest film stars in Hollywood.

The host nation finished third in the medal tally with 38 (13 gold), behind Finland, who won 37 (14 gold).

These Games were historic for a number of reasons. "Citius, Altius, Fortius" (Faster, Higher, Stronger) - the message which was created by Father Didon was recited for the first time. Another innovation appeared during the opening ceremony - three flags were raised: the IOC flag, the flag of the host city, and finally the flag of the subsequent host city.

Finally, the absence of huge crowds and certain difficulties - mostly money-related - in promoting the event could not deflect from the fact that the 1924 Games in Paris were a sporting success.

Copyright 2008 Agence France-Presse.

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