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The Stadium CenturySport, Spectatorship and Mass Society in Modern France$
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Robert W. Lewis

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781526106247

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9781526106247.001.0001

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A ‘grand stade’ for Paris: stadia, urban planning and the 1924 Olympics

A ‘grand stade’ for Paris: stadia, urban planning and the 1924 Olympics

(p.15) 1 A ‘grand stade’ for Paris: stadia, urban planning and the 1924 Olympics
The Stadium Century

Robert W. Lewis

Manchester University Press

This chapter focuses on the debates over the construction of a monumental, 100,000-person stadium in advance of the 1924 Olympic Games in Paris. The stadium’s advocates argued that it would spark a nationwide revival of French physical fitness, deemed critical in light of demographic anxieties generated by the First World War, while its detractors saw the stadium as an expensive space for parasitic mass spectatorship. Yet even the promoters of the Olympic Games (both in France and outside its borders) were leery of the crowds that they hoped to attract: they feared that the mass public was disorderly and dangerous, and that it showed an alarming propensity to seek out the ‘spectacle’ of sport rather than appreciate the latter’s higher moral and physical purpose. This ambivalence contributed to the Paris municipal council’s refusal to support the stadium. While the Olympics still took place, at a privately-owned stadium in the suburb of Colombes northwest of Paris, the Olympic stadium crisis ultimately revealed deep fractures over spectator sport as a matter of official public policy and in relation to urban development, and set the template for sporting practices and further debates that continued well into the 1950s.

Keywords:   Olympics, 1924 Summer Olympics, Pierre de Coubertin, Stadia, Stade de Colombes, Paris

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