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22 May 1859, Edinburgh M.D., Kt, D.L., LL.D., Sportsman, Writer, Poet, Politician, Justicer, Spiritualist Crowborough, 7 July 1930

The Olympic Games (30 july 1912)

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The Olympic Games is a letter written by Arthur Conan Doyle first published in The Times on 30 july 1912.



Editions

  • in The Times (30 july 1912 [UK]) as The Olympic Games: Sir A. Conan Doyle's Suggestions
  • in Daily Mail (31 july 1912 [UK]) as A Plan of Victory: Sir A. Conan Doyle's Letter
  • in Land and Water (august 1912 [UK])


The Olympic Games (30 july 1912)

Sir A. Conan Doyle's Suggestions.

TO THE EDITOR OF THE TIMES.

Sir, — All who have our reputation as athletes at heart owe a debt of gratitude to your Correspondent at the Stockholm Games for his very clear and outspoken comments upon the situation. We can now see the causes of past failure. The question is how far they can be removed in the future, and what steps should be taken to that end.

Every one is agreed as to our possessing the material. There remain only two factors — the money and the management.

To make worthy preparation we must have liberal funds. If the public do not provide them, then they can blame no one but themselves for our failures. I think that where the Olympic Council is most open to criticism is that they have not kept sufficiently in touch with the Press and the public, by explaining what had to be done and what was needed to do it. I am sure that with fuller knowledge the public would have responded more fully. Can we not find among our rich men some one who will make the Games his hobby and be the financial father of the team? How could a man spend his money better? But failing that we must all make an effort — and the sooner the better, before we have lost the stimulus which our defeat provides — to secure ample funds for doing everything which money can do to put the flag at the top in Berlin in 1916. I hope that a strong and influential appeal for funds will be made in the immediate future, with some reassuring statement as to how they will be expended. If the public does not respond it will prove that there is no national interest in the Games and that our case is serious. But I am convinced that this is not so, and that the money will be forthcoming.

Having secured a good war-chest, what are the other measures which should be adopted?

1. The first is the formation of a British Empire Team, which you have already discussed, and which seems to have met with general acceptance.

2. Annual, or even bi-annual, games should be held on the Olympic model each year from now to 1916. Every Olympic Stadium event should be contested in these with handsome prizes. They should be held alternately in the provinces and in London. In this way we would thoroughly understand what material was available, and we would accustom our athletes to metre distances, and to the unusual competitions, such as the discus and javelin. I may say here that there is a small society existing, of which I have the honour to be president, called the Field Events Association (Hon. Secretary, F.A.M. Webster, 161A, Strand, W.C.), which endeavours to promote these abnormal events, and which has already obtained very gratifying results.

3. We must bring our full strength into the field. It should be recognised that just as all counties give up their best men for an England match, so Bisley, Wimbledon, or Henley must not detain our Olympic champions. The absence of our tennis players and of our yachts this year was a deplorable thing. There should be such a public spirit over the Games that it would become impossible for any one to throw obstacles in the way of our complete representation. As a mark of such public interest the team should have a public send-off and a public reception upon its return.

4. The team should be brought together into special training quarters for as long a period as possible before the Games, with the best advice always available to help them. At the Games themselves every effort should be made to keep them under the most healthy and comfortable conditions.

5. In every branch of sport some one must he responsible and on the spot to see that our men are fulfilling every condition. Then such fiascos as the two young officers disqualified in the riding would be avoided.

There is, as I understand, to be an important meeting of those interested in the question during the week, and it is to he earnestly hoped that some way will be found by which the central controlling body (who have, I believe, in some things done excellent work with very insufficient means) will be brought into closer touch with public opinion.

Yours faithfully,

ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE.
Windlesham, Crowborough, Sussex, July 29.



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