Switzerland WAG

1950: The Impetus for Competitive Women’s Gymnastics in Switzerland

In recent posts, we’ve talked a lot about the Swiss men, but we haven’t said much about the Swiss women. Even though Switzerland hosted the 1950 World Championships, the federation did not send any women. As the writer in Gazette de Lausanne noted:

The reason is that the leaders of our federation do not want to put our ladies in competition, considering that the latter is not reserved for representatives of the weaker sex. Are they wrong, are they right?

Gazette de Lausanne, July 18, 1950

La cause en est que les dirigeants de notre fédération ne veulent pas’ mettre nos dames en compétition, estimant que cette dernière n’est pas réservée aux représentantes du sexe faible. Ont-ils tort, ont-ils raison?

Intrigued, I looked into when and how the Swiss women were finally allowed to compete in gymnastics internationally. It turns out that the story is more complicated than it’s normally presented.

For starters, women’s artistic gymnasts from Switzerland had competed internationally before their supposed debut at the World Championships in 1966.

In fact, they had competed at an Olympics—just not the Olympics that you’re probably thinking of.

Mitglied der Kunstturn-Nationalmannschaft Käthi Fritschi 1971 (Photo by Gody Bürkler/RDB/ullstein bild via Getty Images)