Eighty Eight Years Ago
This year the Olympics will be in Rio, but it was 1928 when the Netherlands had the pleasure of hosting the Olympic Games. The purpose built Olympisch Stadion designed by Jan Wils is the epitome of the Amsterdams School building style. In 1987 the city government announced plans to demolish the stadium. The stadium was saved, however, when it was listed as a national monument. Renovation started in 1996, and the stadium was refurbished into the original construction of 1928. The original bicycle track was also removed to enable the use of the space beneath the seats for offices. The stadium was reopened by the Prince of Orange on 13 May 2000.
New Traditions and Foreign Habits
1928 was the first year that women were permitted to take part in the Olympic Games and the tradition of burning the Olympic Flame also started in our lovely city! Amsterdam in 1928 was a far cry from the cosmopolitan place it is now and unused to foreigners and their exotic habits. The Japanese team stayed in a hotel in Zaandam and the Dutch cuisine wasn’t quite to their liking. The proprietor was surprised to see them sprinkling their chicken and rump steak with sugar! If you read Dutch the book, De Olympische Spelen Amsterdam 1928 by Paul Arnoldussen strikes me as an informative and amusing read. Below some photos of the opening ceremony and a trial run with the Olympic Flame, which was lit on the Marathontoren (tower) that pierces the sky above the Stadium.
Gin and Tonic
What were the Brits doing? Taking over the Lloyd Hotel of course and knocking back the hard stuff which included Dutch gin. Some things never change. The Americans went one step further and had a huge boat specially furbished to house their team. It accommodated 300 competitors and had its own mini cycle track, a fencing arena and a treadmill for the show-jumping horses. Talk about show offs! Of course the Americans won the Games with Germany coming in second.
Sunny morning in January
I was in the Stadionplein neighbourhood the other morning and was struck by the Stadium’s beauty. It now houses small businesses and is used occasionally for track events. It is not generally open to the public but it’s possible to book a guided tour (minimum of 5) for 10 euros per person. The stadium was open so I took a few surreptitious photos. Definitely want to book the tour now! Perhaps I will see you there.