The Inter-Allied Games 1919
There is no other way to say it than WWI sucked. Millions died, nations were torn apart, entire towns and villages ceased to exist and in the aftermath a chaos ensued that nearly caused another world war to break out. So why not have an athletic competition to make everyone feel better. With that thought the Inter-Allied Games were devised.
From June 22 to July 6 over 1500 athletes from eighteen nations took the field to compete in 19 different sports. The contest was open to anyone currently serving in the military or that had served during the Great war. The location of the event was Pershing Stadium in Paris. The stadium had been built via a joint effort of the US military and the YMCA and was gifted to “the people of France”. The stadium is actually still in place and used today!
The list of events is fairly impressive:
Cross country running
Tug of war
One can only wish that hand grenade throwing and American Football could someday become Olympic sports! More military based games were going to part of the agenda, but they sadly did NOT make the final cut.
The list of participating nations was almost as impressive:
Kingdom of Hejaz
China had been invited and was initially going to attend but it could not get its athletes there in time for the competition. So they supplied some of the medals. The Kingdom of Hejaz did not send athletes but provided a demonstration of the equestrian abilities.
The big winner of the games was Norman Ross and American who won 5 gold medals in the swimming competitions. he would then go on to win several more medals in the 1920 Olympics. Sadly George S. Patton, who had competed in the 1912 Olympics did not participate in the games.
The games were well attended and successful. If nothing else it gave everyone a reason to cheer in the shadow of a great catastrophe. If you would like more info? You can read the “official” report here.