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Paris 1924 - Overview

The first Olympic Village

France drew a veil over 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 stepped down as International Olympic Committee president in favor of 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 in the buildup to these Games, however: The IOC decided to host a Winter Olympic Games as of 1924. Chamonix was chosen as the first host city.

After Chamonix, Paris offered 3,089 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 an Olympic pool in Tourelles in the heart of the capital.

With 99 medals (45 gold), America regained the lead at the top of the medals table. But the star of the Games was Finland's Paavo Nurmi, winner of five gold medals in running events.

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

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

These Games were historic for a number of reasons. "Citius, Altius, Fortius" (Faster, Higher, Stronger) -- a message created by Henri Didon (a French priest, educator and author) and adopted as the heart of the Olympics -- was recited for the first time. Another innovation appeared during the closing ceremony, when three flags were raised: the IOC flag, the flag of the host city and the flag of the next host city.

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

Copyright 2008 Agence France-Presse.

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