Little Belgium welcomes (some of) the world

The 1920 Olympics, less than two years after the Armistice, were held in Antwerp, to honor Belgium as the country that had suffered the most devastation during the war. (I would have argued for France.)   Countries have to put a lot of money into hosting the Games, so maybe this honor was also a burden.

Of course, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Bulgaria and Turkey were banned from competing.

The opening ceremonies included the first use of the Olympic flag, the first time reciting of the Olympic oath and the first release of doves as a symbol of peace.

Pierre, the Baron de Coubertin, who served as president of the International Olympic Committee, said of the 1920 Games:

“This is what the seventh Olympiad has brought us: general comprehension; the certainty of being henceforward understood by all … These festivals … are above all festivals of human unity. In an incomparable synthesis the effort of muscles and of mind, mutual help and competition, lofty patriotism and intelligent cosmopolitanism, the personal interest in the champion and the abnegation of the team-member, are bound in a sheaf for a common task.”

Belgium contributed 336 athletes, including 10 women, and won 42 medals, including 16 golds. Here’s the Belgian team, marching into the stadium:

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The procession of the athletes of Belgium

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