1932 Los Angeles, USA

The 1932 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the X Olympiad, was a major world wide multi-athletic event which was celebrated in 1932 in Los Angeles, California, United States. No other cities made a bid to host these Olympics. Held during the worldwide Great Depression, many nations and athletes were unable to pay for the trip to Los Angeles.

Fewer than half the participants of the 1928 Summer Olympics in Amsterdam returned to compete in 1932. US President Herbert Hoover did not attend the Games, becoming the second sitting head of government not to appear at an Olympics hosted in that country. This was Hoover’s second time not attending an olympiad held in the US during his presidency, as the Olympic winter games were held in Lake Placid, New York, earlier the same year. The first US president who did not attend a games was President Theodore Roosevelt, at the 1904 III Olympiad held in St. Louis, MO. His absence was due to the fact that David R. Francis, Mayor of St. Louis, refused any help officiating the Games.

The organizing committee put no record of the finances of the Games in their report, though contemporary newspapers reported that the Games had made a profit of US$1,000,000.

Highlights of the Los Angeles Olympics

ñAn Olympic Village was built for the first time, in Baldwin Hills, occupied by the male athletes. Female athletes were housed at the Chapman Park Hotel on Wilshire Boulevard.

ñThe first use of a victory podium.

ñThe Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum was known in 1932 as Olympic Stadium.

ñTenth Street, a major thoroughfare in Los Angeles, was renamed Olympic Boulevard in honor of the Games of the Tenth Olympiad.

ñBabe Didrikson won two gold medals in the javelin and the hurdles event, and competed in a jump-off for a silver in the high jump. Her technique in the jump-off was ruled illegal, leaving Didrikson with second place.

ñIn field hockey, only three nations took part. The host nation lost both matches, 1-24 to India and 2-9 to Japan, but still won a bronze medal.

ñPoland’s Stanisława Walasiewicz won the gold medal in the women’s 100 meters; she would also win the silver medal in the event four years later. After her death in 1980, it was discovered that she was intersex and would have been ineligible to participate.

ñFinnish star Paavo Nurmi was barred from competing in the Olympics for being a professional.

ñEddie Tolan won both the 100 m and 200 m sprint events.

ñHelene Madison won three gold medals in swimming, while the Japanese upset the men’s events and took all but one title.

ñTakeichi Nishi (Baron Nishi) was the gold medalist with his horse Uranus in the equestrian show jumping individual event. Nishi’s gold medal is Japan’s only gold medal in the equestrian event to this day. Nishi would later die in 1945 as an officer stationed in the defense of the island of Iwo Jima, and as such is a main character in Clint Eastwood’s film, Letters from Iwo Jima.

It was the first time the 50 kilometre walk appeared in the men’s athletics at the Games. This was only the second time women’s events in athletics were included in the Olympic Games program and was the first time that the javelin throw became a women’s Olympic event. There was a total of 386 participants from 34 countries competing.

Paavo Nurmi from Finland was suspended one week before the Games by the IAAF for accepting payments in excess of his expenses for an exhibition tour (ie for “professionalism”).
The athletics events took place at Los Angeles Olympic Stadium, now the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.