The year 2024 will mark the third time that Paris has hosted the Olympic Games. The first was in 1900 and the last was almost a century ago in 1924. Since then, the world has changed dramatcially. Technology has advanced, records have been broken and new champions have been crowned.
In the space of 100 years, some sports have ceased to be part of the Olympic program, while others have been incorporated into the Games. Nowadays, the facilities at the Games are tailor-made to allow athletes to maximise their performance while providing the best possible experience to the fans.
Much has changed through the 20th and early 21st centuries from Paris 1924 to Paris 2024. But these editions of the Olympics are proof of the undeniable importance the French capital has in the world of sports.
So what’s new? What remains from 1924? And what differences can we see between now and then? With 500 days to go until the Opening Ceremony of Paris 2024, Olympics.com brings you facts and figures that compare the upcoming Games with those that took place in 1924.
Sports in each edition
The Paris 1924 Games took place over just under three months, between 4 May and 27 July with 17 sports and 126 medal events. Paris 2024 will run from 26 July to 11 August with nearly double the number of sports: 32 in total – and 329 medal events.
Foil, the first female fencing event on the Olympic programme, was introduced in 1924. The Games were also the first to feature demonstration sports: Basque pelota, savate (French boxing), canoe and canne de combat – a French martial art similar to fencing in which competitors use a stick (canne).
Paris 1924 was the last time tennis featured on the Olympic programme until it returned at Seoul 1988. It was also the last time we saw rugby in the 15-player variant, with the sport only returning at Rio 2016 in the seven-athlete variant (rugby sevens).
At Paris 2024 breaking will make its debut at the Games.
Number of athletes and the Olympic Village
Paris 1924 featured 3,089 athletes (135 women and 2,954 men), many of whom were accommodated in the first Olympic Village. The village was located in Colombes, near the Yves-du-Manoir stadium, northwest of central Paris.
At Paris 2024, 10,500 competitors are expected to compete, with women and men in equal numbers. The Olympic Village for the next Games is located five minutes from the Saint-Denis stadium, seven kilometres from the centre of the French capital.
Countries participating in each edition
There were 44 National Olympic Committees (NOCs) represented at Paris 1924. Ecuador, Ireland, Lithuania, Philippines and Uruguay sent delegations for the first time. Latvia and Poland also made their debuts at the Summer Games, but months before had sent athletes to the Winter Games in Chamonix.
In 2024, more than 200 NOCs will take part, in addition to the Refugee Olympic Team.
Records in 1924 and some that could be broken in 2024
In the 1924 edition of the Games in Paris, Paavo Nurmi (FIN) set Olympic Records in athletics in the 1500m – with a time of 3:53.6 – and in the 5000m, with a time of 14:31.2. The two events took place within less than an hour of each other. The current best times over these distances at the Olympic Games are:
The USA team set World Records in the 4x100m and 4x400m relays. In the first – the 4x100m – the time was 41 seconds. Currently, it stands at 36.84, a time set by Jamaica at London 2012. In the 4x400m relay, their time was 3:16.00. Today that time is 2:54.29 and it still belongs to the USA who achieved it during the 1993 Athletics World Championships.
In terms of women, the Paris 1924 swimming competition saw the American Mariechen Wehselau (USA) set the best mark in the world in the 100m freestyle (1:12.2). Today’s record is 51.71, held by Sarah Sjoestroem (SWE). Another US swimmer, Martha Norelius set the Olympic Record in the 400m freestyle, with 6:02.2. The current Olympic record over this distance is 3:56.46 set by Katie Ledecky (USA).
And what awaits us at Paris 2024? In the pole vault, Armand ‘Mondo’ Duplantis (SWE) has been a record-breaking machine. During the Clermont-Ferrand meet at the end of February 2023, he flew over the bar at 6.22m. In comparison, the Paris 1924 Olympic champion was Lee Barnes (USA) who vaulted 3.95m.
In the triple jump, Yulimar Rojas (VEN) is the name to beat and could make even more history in the French capital by breaking her own world record of 15.74m.
The men’s 400m hurdles has provided many emotions, with Karsten Warholm (NOR) and Rai Benjamin (USA) – gold and silver medalists of the last Games, respectively – both going under the world record in Tokyo. The bronze went to Alison dos Santos (BRA), who was just 0.02 seconds away from equaling the record. Less than a year later, the Brazilian became World Champion.
Fiji’s men’s team could become three-time Olympic champions in rugby sevens at Paris 2024, should they qualify for the Games. In football, Brazil’s men’s team have the chance to equal Hungary and Great Britain in winning three Olympic titles.
Stadiums and facilities
One venue from Paris 1924 will be used at Paris 2024. The Yves-du-Manoir stadium in Colombes hosted the Opening and Closing Ceremonies almost a century ago, as well as some of the matches in the rugby and football tournaments. In 2024, the stadium will host the hockey tournament, while rugby and football will be played in other facilities including the Stade de France, Parc des Princes and other stadiums spread across mainland France.
In 1924, sailing took place in Normandy, in Le Havre and also on the banks of the River Seine, in Meulan en Yvelines. In 2024 it will take place in Marseille on the Mediterranean coast. The fencing will take place in one of the most iconic locations of the French capital, the Grand Palais.
At Paris 1924 it took place in the Vélodrome d’Hiver, a covered velodrome on rue Nélaton in downtown Paris, where a tragic mass arrest took place during the Second World War. The venue was destroyed in 1959.
In 2024 surfing will feature at the Games for the second time and the competition will take place outside of Europe. The waves of Teahupo’o in Tahiti (French Polynesia) will welcome the world’s best surfers searching for Olympic glory.
Stars of 1924 and those expected to shine in 2024
The biggest names at Paris 1924 were the “Flying Finns” Paavo Nurmi and Ville Ritola. Nuurmi is still the only athlete to win five athletics gold medals at a single Games, while only Ritola has won six athletics medals in a single edition.
The USA’s Ethel Lackie won two gold medals in swimming (100m freestyle and 4x100m freestyle relay), while two tennis players from the United States made history at Paris 1924: Helen Wills topped the podium in singles and doubles alongside Hazel Wightman, who also won gold in mixed doubles.
At Paris 2024 there are several names that will be aiming to make history. Sweden’s Duplantis, who as well as being world and Olympic champion is also world record holder, is one of them.
In swimming, Australia’s Mollie O’Callaghan and Sweden’s Sarah Sjoestroem were on top form at last year’s World Championships and are strong favourites to win gold at the next Games. O’Callaghan already has three Olympic relay medals: two golds and one bronze. She is the current world champion in the 100m freestyle and silver medallist in the 200m freestyle. Sjoestroem finished second at Tokyo 2020 in the 50m freestyle, but in 2022 she topped the podium over the distance at the Worlds. There is no doubt that she will want to improve upon her Tokyo results in Paris.
In the men’s swimming competition, look out for young Romania’s David Popovici, who has made great progress in recent seasons. He is the current European champion in the 200m and 100m freestyle, and holds the world record in the latter (46.86).
Swimming with Tarzan | Paris 1924
Paris 1924 curiosities
The Paris 1924 Games first introduced a Closing Ceremony as we know it today, which involves raising three flags:
- The flag of the International Olympic Committee
- The flag of the host Country
- The flag of the next host Country of the Summer Olympic Games.
Paris 1924 was immortalised through the film “Chariots of Fire”, which tells the story of the British athletics team’s preparation for the Games. The film won the 1982 Oscar in four categories:
- Best movie
- Best original screenplay
- Best costume
- Best soundtrack
1924 Olympic champion Johnny Weissmuller (USA) had a long career in cinema, playing the character of “Tarzan” in several movies.
Uruguay, in its first participation at the Games, won the Olympic football tournament at Paris 1924. In reference to the title, one of the four stars above the Uruguayan Football Association badge alludes to that gold. One of the stands at the Centenario stadium in Montevideo – where the first FIFA World Cup final was played in 1930 – is named “Colombes” in homage to the city where that victory was achieved.
Uruguay’s victory at Paris 1924 also gave rise to the expression “Olympic Goal”.
Football | What is an Olympic Goal?