1928 FIG Congress

1928: The Fight over Pole Vault at the 15th FIG Congress + the Complete Minutes

In 1928, the 15th FIG Congress took place on August 6 in Amsterdam. It was the first meeting of the delegates after the death of Nicolas J. Cupérus, the man who led the FIG for 43 years. 

The minutes are fascinating because they show the struggle between the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) to define the sport of gymnastics.

Is pole vault a gymnastics event or an athletics event?

In the view of the FIG, it was a gymnastics event, especially since it required the use of apparatus. (It was also part of Jahn’s seminal text, Die Deutsche Turnkunst, though that point did not come up in conversations.) But the IOC didn’t share the FIG’s view.

*Cue dramatic music.*

Reminder: Track and field events like pole vault were part of the World Championships (originally called the International Tournament) until 1950. Here’s a full list of events during the major men’s gymnastics competitions from 1896 until 1950.

1909 FIG Congress

1909: The Fight over Competition Formats at the FIG Congress

There are pivotal moments in the history of gymnastics — those moments when the sport could have gone in a very different direction.

One of those inflection points was the 1909 FIG Congress. Not much was decided in 1909 because the attendees had wildly divergent views on competition formats.

One proposal called for blind compulsories. In other words, the gymnasts would attend a competition, where they would be shown the compulsories that they had to compete. They wouldn’t know beforehand what to practice.

Can you imagine? The history of gymnastics would look very different if that proposal had been accepted.

That said, not every idea was as wild as blind compulsories. For instance, there was a desire to form a permanent technical committee, which eventually happened decades later.

Dr. Jindřich Vaníček, one of the major figures in gymnastics at the time.
Source: Wikimedia Commons
1907 FIG Congress

1907: The Sixth FIG Congress Considers Abandoning World Championships

Which gymnastics federations should be allowed to join the Bureau of European Gymnastics Associations (now the FIG)?

How are the International Tournaments different from the Olympic Games? Should there even be an International Tournament? They are costly to run, and President Cupérus was originally opposed to the idea of gymnastics competitions.

These are some of the questions that the Bureau of European Gymnastics Associations had to answer during the 1907 Congress.

Charles Cazalet, source: Wikimedia Commons
FIG Congress

1933: The Election of Adam Zamoyski at the 20th FIG Congress

During the 1928 Olympics, the Czechoslovak publication Sokol lamented that there weren’t any Slavic people in positions of power at the FIG. Well, that changed.

Dr. Klinger of Czechoslovakia became a vice president on the Executive Committee in 1932. (The Executive Committee would become the Men’s Technical Committee.)

One year later, Charles Cazalet, who was president of the FIG after Cupérus, died in January of 1933, and Count Adam Zamoyski of Poland was elected the next president of the FIG that same year.

As we’ll see, his election was celebrated across the Slavic gymnastics community.

1950 FIG Congress

1950: The 29th FIG Congress and the Attempt to Get Rid of Pommel Horse

Do you wish that pommel horse weren’t a part of men’s artistic gymnastics? If Sweden had its way in 1950, the apparatus would be gone.

Do you wish that men would use floor music? Hungary and Poland wanted that to happen in 1950.

Do you wish that women still competed on flying rings? Well, you have several federations to blame for that.

Oh, and you have Hungary to thank for the size of today’s floor exercise.

Let’s dive into the details of the 1950 FIG Congress.

1896 19th Century FIG Congress

1896: The Minutes from the Second FIG Congress

What did the FIG discuss at its congress in 1896?

Here are the extant minutes from the meeting — as printed in Le Gymnaste, December 12, 1896.

Note: It wasn’t called the FIG at that point, nor was it called a Congress. What transpired was a meeting of the European Federations of Gymnastics (Fédérations européennes de gymnastique).

1964 China FIG Congress

1964: China’s Withdrawal from the FIG

In my post about the 1964 Olympic Games, I mentioned China’s withdrawal from the FIG. Over the holidays, I was able to find the official statement from the Gymnastics Association of the People’s Republic of China.

Below, you can find a translation, as well as the original in Chinese.

2017 FIG Congress

2017: Japan’s Reaction to Watanabe’s Election as the FIG President

On November 6, 2021, at the 83rd Congress in Antalya, Turkey, Watanabe Morinari will face off with Farid Gayibov for the FIG presidency. 

When Watanabe was elected president, it was a big deal. Let’s take a look at what was said in the Japanese press at the time.

Watanabe Morinari
1968 FIG Congress

1968: Notes from the 47th FIG Congress in Rome

How much did it cost to be an FIG member in 1968? What was the FIG’s budget in 1968? Will Israel finally be approved to compete in the European Championships?

All that and more in the notes from the 1968 FIG Meeting.

1966 1969 1970 FIG Congress Politics World Championships

1966: Notes from the FIG Congress + a Failed Worlds Qualifications

In my post about the men’s technical committee meeting, I noted that Arthur Gander had been voted the next president of the FIG, replacing Charles Thœni.

Let’s take a look at some of the key decisions that were made during the FIG Congress in Dortmund.

As we go through the information, try to guess which decisions became a thorn in Arthur Gander’s side.

L’Express, Wednesday, September 21, 1966