The Olympic Stadium Amsterdam
Where art meets sport
Home of the Olympic Games in 1928, the Olympisch Stadion is still standing as a unique landmark in the Amsterdam Zuid area. The architect Jan Wils was one of the founding fathers of the influential art movement De Stijl that had its orign in the Netherlands around 1917. De Stijl with Piet Mondriaan and Theo van Doesburg as internationally recognised icons, had a pivotal role in the European avant garde movement in the 1930’s.
Because of the nature of the design of the Olympisch Stadion such as its concentric form, the inclusion of a cycle racing track and the Marathon Toren, the landmark icon next to the stadium the Olympisch Stadion with the Olympic flame on top, the stadium is widely regarded as a style icon and therefore still visited by architects today. Art and culture were closely linked to the Olympic Games in the early days and there were gold medals for Jan Wils (architecture) and Isaac Israëls , a well-known Dutch painter in the Olympic art tournament.
The Netherlands governement wanted to support the Netherlands Olympic Committee with 2,5 million guilders in 1926. Several religious parties in the House of Representatives (Second Chamber) opposed these plans because the Olympic Games would also take place on Sundays, which they could not agree with because of their religion. A group of medics informed the same parties that women were about to take part in the Olympic Games for the first time ever, the Netherlands governement was under huge pressure and in the end withdrew its financial backing of the plans of the NOC for organising the Olympic Games in Amsterdam.
The Dutch (sport) community replied in an unexpected way and managed to acquire with huge support of a national newspaper (Handelsblad) the solid financial foundation of 1,5 million guilders within a couple of weeks. Basically, the Olympisch Stadion can be regarded as the first example of crowdfunding.
A couple of novelties were introduced at the 1928 Olympics such as the Parade of the Athletes, the Olympic flame, female athletes taking part in the games for the very first time and the introduction of Coca-Cola in the Netherlands. The Dutch organisers never would have imagined that the introduction of the Olympic flame would last for ever and the ritual has become an event itself that attracts millions of spectators alone worldwide in the running up to the Olympic Games.
Heroes at the Olympic Games of 1928 are Johnny Weismuller (gold medal on 100 meters relay and gold medal on 4×200 meters relay) , the American swimmer whose career in Hollywood took off after the Olympic Games in Amsterdam and would become famous as Tarzan. Anoher hero is Paavo Nurmi from Finland, one of the most succesful male athletes in Olympic history who won the 10.000 meters and clinched two silver medals on the 5.000 meters and 3.000 meters steeplechase and the Dutch boxer Bep van Klaveren also known as the Dutch Windmill won a gold medal in boxing. The ban on boxing had to be lifted by the Amsterdam City for the Olympics so the boxing matches could take place.
Over the years, all the big soccer matches of Ajax during its glory years from 1960-1996 have been played in this stadium. From 1967 I was there as a supporter during most of the matches. With the Olympic Team The Netherlands for London we had our kick-off meeting in the Olympisch Stadion in April 2012. In preparation for the London Olympics Tyson Gay, Kim Collins and Julian Gatlin were training here, nobody noticed… For me it is a very special place, coming there with my father way back in 1967 for an Ajax match and bringing my daughter Julie to a Cup match of Ajax in September 2014. Art, history, sport, when I walk around I can almost walk back in history, the memories are still vivid.
You can book me for a guided tour and I can be booked in advance through www.olympischstadion.nl and costs 7,50 euros. The tour will take approximately an hour and you will hear a lot of fascinating stories on the Olympic Games, the Olympisch Stadion, its past, present and future.
Olympisch Stadion Amsterdam
Olympisch Stadion 2
Bookings for tours in advance:
Tel. +31 (20) 305 44 00 or email@example.com