London’s Olympics, 1908

In 1908 the Olympic movement visited Britain for the first time. Stephen Halliday describes how the British Olympic Association prepared for the Games with barely two years notice.

The London Olympics of 1908 should have been the Rome Olympics. The decision to award the fourth Olympics to Rome was taken in the belief that its fame and accessibility would encourage competitors to attend from all over the world, attendance at the St Louis Olympics of 1904 having been disappointing. However, by 1906 the Italian organizers were well behind with their preparations so, when Vesuvius erupted in April 1906, it was with some relief that the Italian authorities announced that they would have to devote the resources intended for the Olympics to the reconstruction of Naples. London was invited by the International Olympic Committee to step into the breach.

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