1906 Intercalated Games

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1906 Intercalated Games
Athletes854 (848 men, 6 women)
Opened by

The 1906 Intercalated Games or 1906 Olympic Games was an international multi-sport event that was celebrated in Athens, Greece.[1] They were at the time considered to be Olympic Games and were referred to as the "Second International Olympic Games in Athens" by the International Olympic Committee.[2] However, the medals that were distributed to the participants during these games are not officially recognised by the Olympic Committee[3] and are not displayed with the collection of Olympic medals at the Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland.


The first Intercalated Games had been scheduled by the International Olympic Committee in 1901[4] as part of a new schedule, where every four years, in between the internationally organised Games, there would be Intermediate Games held in Athens.

This was a compromise: after the successful Games of Athens 1896, the Greeks suggested they could organise the games every four years. Since they had the accommodation and had proven they could hold well-organised games, they received substantial public support. However, Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the International Olympic Committee, opposed this: he had intended for the first Games to be in Paris in 1900. After Paris had lost the première Olympics, de Coubertin did not want the games to be permanently hosted elsewhere.[5]

Unfortunately, the 1900 Games were overshadowed by the Exposition Universelle,[6] whose organizing committee disagreed with de Coubertin's ideas to such an extent that he resigned. The organization of the 1900 Games was haphazard by today's standards, and although some events, such as archery, drew widespread attention, many others were poorly attended. Historians' opinions still differ over which events should be considered "Olympic".

Consequently, the IOC supported the Greek idea by granting them a second series of quadrennial games in between the first series.[7] All of the games would be International Olympic Games: the difference was that half of them would follow Coubertin's idea of "organisation internationale", while the other half would follow the Greeks' idea of a permanent home with the Committee of the Olympic Games, as it was then known, as experienced organisers.

This was a departure from the ancient schedule, but it was expected that, if the ancient Greeks could keep a four-year schedule, the modern Olympic Movement could keep a two-year schedule. As 1902 was now too close to be logistically workable, and Greece experienced political and economic difficulties, the 2nd Olympic Games in Athens were scheduled for 1906, and the IOC as a whole gave Greece full support for the organisation.[8]


The Organising Committee of the 1906 Games

The 1906 Games were quite successful: unlike the Games of 1900, 1904 or 1908, they were not stretched out over several months, and unlike 1900 and 1904, they were not overshadowed by an international exposition. Their crisp implementation was most likely instrumental in the continued existence of the Games.

Contemporary publications praised the Games:

The Olympic Games of 1906 will go down in athletic history as the most remarkable festival of its kind ever held. They exceeded in every way the successful Olympic Games of 1896 ... The scenes and incidents and everything in connection with the Olympic Games of 1906 made an impression that will never be forgotten and it is hoped that future Olympic Games will be up to the standard of the ones of 1906.[9]: 11–13 

These Games were the first to have:

  • All athlete registration going through their NOCs.[citation needed]
  • The Opening of the Games as a separate event: an event at which the athletes marched into the stadium in national teams, each following its national flag.
  • An Olympic Village (at the Zappeion).
  • A formal Closing Ceremony.
  • The raising of national flags for the medalists.

These, along with various other changes, are now accepted as tradition.


Panathinaiko Stadium in 1906
Panathinaiko Stadium

The Games were held from 22 April to 2 May 1906, in Athens, Greece. They took place in the Panathenaic Stadium, which had already hosted the 1896 Games and the earlier Zappas Olympics of 1870 and 1875. The games excluded several disciplines that had occurred during the past two games; it was unclear whether they ought to have been part of the Olympic Games. Added to the program were the javelin throw and the pentathlon.[citation needed]


The games included a real opening ceremony, watched by a large crowd. The athletes, for the first time, entered the stadium as national teams, marching behind their flags. The official opening of the games was done by King George I.[9]


The finish of the Marathon
  • There were only two standing jump events in Athens, but Ray Ewry successfully defended his titles in both of them, bringing his total up to 8 gold medals. In 1908 he would successfully defend them one last time for a total of 10 Olympic titles, a feat unparalleled until 2008 when Michael Phelps pushed his Olympic gold medal total to 14.
  • Paul Pilgrim won both the 400 and 800 metres, a feat that was first repeated during Montreal 1976 by Alberto Juantorena.
  • Canadian Billy Sherring lived in Greece for two months, to adjust to the local conditions. His efforts paid off as he unexpectedly won the Marathon. Prince George accompanied him on the final lap.[9]: 43 
  • Finland made its Olympic debut, and immediately won a gold medal, as Verner Järvinen won the Discus (Greek style) event.
  • Peter O'Connor of Ireland won gold in the hop, step and jump (triple jump) and silver in the long jump. In protest at being put on the British team, O'Connor scaled the flagpole and hoisted the Irish flag, while the pole was guarded by Irish and American athletes and supporters.
  • Martin Sheridan of the Irish American Athletic Club, competing for the U.S. team, won gold in the 16-pound Shot put and the Freestyle Discus throw and silver in the Standing high jump, Standing long jump and Stone throw. He scored the greatest number of points of any athlete at the Games. For his accomplishments he was presented with a ceremonial javelin by King Georgios I. This javelin is still on display in a local pub near Sheridan's hometown in Bohola, County Mayo, Ireland.

Closing ceremony[edit]

Six thousand schoolchildren took part in possibly the first ever Olympic closing ceremony.

Participating nations[edit]

854 athletes, 848 men and 6 women, from 20 countries, competed at the 1906 Intercalated Games.[1]

Participants of the 1906 Games

Medals awarded[edit]

78 events in 14 disciplines, comprising 12 sports, were part of the 1906 Games.

Medal count[edit]

These medals were distributed but are no longer recognized by the International Olympic Committee.

  *   Host nation (Greece)

1 France1591640
2 United States126624
3 Greece*8131334
4 Great Britain811524
5 Italy76316
6  Switzerland56415
7 Germany46515
8 Norway4217
9 Austria3339
10 Denmark3216
11 Sweden25714
12 Hungary25310
13 Belgium2136
14Russia Finland2114
15 Canada1102
16 Netherlands0123
17 Mixed team0101
Ottoman Empire Ottoman Empire0101
19 Australia0033
20 Bohemia0022
Totals (20 nations)788078236
Source: [1]


  • The mixed team medal is for two Belgian and one Greek athletes in the Coxed Pairs 1 mile rowing event.
  • In the football tournament, the silver medal for the team from Smyrna was won by footballers from various nationalities (English, French and Armenian), while the bronze medal for the team from Thessalonica was won by ethnic Greeks who competed for Greece, despite both cities being Ottoman possessions at the time.
  • Egypt was the only country that competed but did not win medals.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ While the Grand Duchy of Finland was part of the Russian Empire at the time, it was fully self-governing; as such, it was treated as a separate country.
  2. ^ At the time, the name "Turkey" was used to refer to the Ottoman Empire.


  1. ^ a b c "1906 Athina Summer Games". Sports Reference. Archived from the original on 17 April 2020. Retrieved 29 January 2014.
  2. ^ Journal of Olympic History, Volume 10, December 2001/January 2002, The 2nd International Olympic Games in Athens 1906, by Karl Lennartz Archived 15 May 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ What Events are Olympic? Olympics at SportsReference.com. Accessed 7 Sep 2008.
  4. ^ Walsh, Philip, ed. (1 August 2016). Brill's Companion to the Reception of Aristophanes. Brill. p. 245. ISBN 9789004324657. Retrieved 20 March 2020.
  5. ^ Hirthler, George (3 September 2019). "Celebrating Pierre de Coubertin: the French genius of sport who founded the modern Olympic Games - Olympic News". International Olympic Committee. Retrieved 20 March 2020.
  6. ^ "Paris 1900: Games at the centre of the world". International Olympic Committee. 13 September 2017. Retrieved 20 March 2020.
  7. ^ Koulouri, Christina (2005). "The Inside View of an Outsider: Greek Scholarship on the History of the Olympic Games". Journal of Sport History. 32 (2): 217–228. ISSN 0094-1700. JSTOR 43610398.
  8. ^ John E. Findling, Kimberly D. Pelle, ed. (30 March 2004). Encyclopedia of the modern Olympic movement. Greenwood Press. p. 45. ISBN 9780313322785. Retrieved 20 March 2020.[permanent dead link]
  9. ^ a b c Sullivan, James E. (1906). The Olympic Games at Athens 1906. New York: American Sports Publishing Company.

Further reading[edit]