Friday 15 July 2016

Olympisch Stadion in Amsterdam

The Netherlands has hosted the Olympics once, back in 1928, and as a legacy to that the Olympisch Stadion (Olympic Stadium) stands in Amsterdam and still provides the backdrop for significant sporting events.  

The Olympisch Stadion, designed by Jan Wils in typical Amsterdamse School architectural style, served as the main stadium for the summer olympics of 1928, hosting field hockey (the first event to be played there), football, cycling, athletics, gymnastics, korfball and equestrian jumping. 

Notable about the 1928 Olympics is that it saw the (re)introduction of the Olympic Flame, which was kept burning in the Marathon tower next to the Olympisch Stadion throughout the games.

To say the stadium's use and history since the Olympics of 1928 has been varied and rich is an understatement: 
  • The Olympic stadium served as the home ground for the national Dutch team once the Olympics were over.
  • Amsterdam's football team Ajax used it for games needing floodlights (which their own football ground didn't have) or when the expected crowd was too big for their own stadium, which tended to be the international games. Ajax continued using the Olympisch stadium until 1996 when the Amsterdam Arena was completed. 
  • The stadium was used as the start and finish point of the 1954 Tour de France.
  • Every October the stadium is the start and finish of the Amsterdam marathon. 
  • In 1995 and 1996 the Amsterdam Admirals played at the Olympisch Stadion in the World League of American Football with the stadium hosting the World Bowl of 1995.
  • In 2005, the sports museum 'Olympic Experience Amsterdam' opened. It closed in 2014.
  • The 2016 European Athletic Championships were hosted there last week - the biggest event hosted in the Olympisch Stadion since the 1928 Olympics!

And to think, in 1987 the Amsterdam city council wanted to demolish the stadium! Thankfully it was saved and given monument status in order to protect it for the future. 

In the same year renovations on the stadium began, to return it to its original state. When it was first built it could house around 31,000 spectators. A second tier was later added to give the Olympisch Stadion a capacity of 64,000 in order that it could compete with Rotterdam's new stadium, which was completed in 1937 (De Kuip, the home of Eredivisie club Feyenoord and coincidentally the venue my family and I just visited to see Monster Jam!) 

After the renovations were complete the stadium capacity was reduced to just over 22,000 and its primary use became track and field events. It was re-opened in 2000 by 'Prince' Willem-Alexander, who is now King of the Netherlands.

There has been talk of the Netherlands bidding for the 2028 Olympics, to mark the one hundred year anniversary of the 1928 Olympics hosted in Amsterdam. The Dutch government, however, put any potential bid project on hold because of the cost implications of hosting an Olympic games. There is still a possibility that the idea will be revived - but we won't know for sure until 2019 when the bidding to host the 2028 Olympics starts.....
Welcome to our Olympics for Kids series! The Olympics are a wonderful opportunity to teach kids about the world and explore cultures together. Today, you can find more about Olympic history and famous athletes from various countries around the world. Judoka: Rafaela Silva - Multicultural Kid Blogs South Africa's First Olympians - Globe Trottin' Kids Chile: Important Names and Winners - La clase de Sra. DuFault  Female Athletes to Watch in 2016 - Use Resources Wisely Jefferson Perez: The Only Olympic Medalist in Ecuador - Hispanic Mama Fastest Man/Woman in the World - Kid World Citizen Olympisch Stadion in Amsterdam - Expat Life with a Double Buggy Baron Pierre de Coubertin & the modern Olympics - La Cité des Vents   Don't forget that you can also download our Summer Games Unit activity pack to learn more about the world and have fun during the Olympics.

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