To the Editors of the Crimson:
As a Harvard graduate and former occasional contributor to the CRIMSON, I trust that I may be permitted to trespass upon your space in behalf of a project that I feel a double interest in, both as a Harvard man and as a Greek.
At the International Athletic Congress at Paris last summer, it was decided to hold athletic contests every four years, open to amateurs only, to be known as the Olympic Games. If some lovers of Pindar feel their teeth on edge at this name, as applied to bicycle races and lawn tennis tournaments, we Greeks are to a man delighted that the first of these meetings is to be held in Athens, by unanimous vote of the members of the aforesaid Congress. And doubtless there could be no fitter spot to inaugurate these contests, which will be of incalculable benefit to the cause of athletics all over the civilized world than the land where athletics in their highest sense were brought to such perfection twenty-four centuries ago.
The project, as regards Athens, was discouraged by some cautious individuals who doubted its success, unless it had the advantage of all modern facilities, and these, it was claimed, were largely lacking in Greece. But now the success of the scheme is assured by the arrangements made. The Greek nation have responded with enthusiasm to the call for subscriptions and the expenses of a brilliant celebration will be more than covered. The ancient Stadium at Athens is to be put in order, its high embanked sides covered with rows of seats and the level part provided with a running track, so that the field sports and general athletic contests will be held in a superb place, capable of seating twenty thousand spectators. The aquatic sports will be held in the roadstead of Phaleron or in the straits of Salamis, while the yacht regatta, which promises to be unusually brilliant, will take place in the Saronic Gulf. The provisional programme comprises: Foot races of various lengths, including a long distance run from Marathon to Athens (48 kilometres), bicycle races, running high and long jumps, putting the weight, lawn tennis, cricket and general gymnastics, shooting, fencing and swimming tournaments, boat races of all sorts and the regatta. The prizes will probably be silver wreaths of laurel or olive, and be awarded by the Greek King in person. The Crown Prince is chairman of the large managing Greek Committee and is taking a most active part in the work. According to present arrangements, the games will be inaugurated on Greek Independence Day, April 6, 1896, which is also Easter Monday. The Easter holidays will enable many to attend the festivities, which will of course cover several days. Thus far the co-operation of English, French, American, Belgian, Austrian, Hungarian, Spanish, Swedish and Italian athletes has been promised; the Germans and Swiss, not having been represented at the Congress, have not yet announced their intentions, but will no doubt participate ultimately. American athletics were represented at the Paris Congress by Professor Sloane of Princeton, who also undertook to persuade American athletes to attend the Athens meeting.
Nevertheless, I venture to put in my word, in your columns, to Harvard men more especially, and urge all that can do so, to find their way hither in April 1896. It is no doubt an unfortunate time of year for a college man, and especially at Harvard, where I have no doubt that April is now as much the month of extra grinding for the Finals as it was in my days. But there are a number of men who are able to get away - at any rate, a few athletic men could doubtless obtain permission for a five weeks' absence, especially as the Easter vacation (which I hope has not meanwhile been abolished by the Overseers) will cover two of these weeks. Harvard must by all means be honorably represented, as the oldest and greatest of American universities; and her athletic circles must begin to consider the matter from now. It would be a great pity if Princeton should carry off the honors for America; and it would be a great disappointment to the few Harvard men, that I know will be present, not to see the dear old "crimson" represented in the fight.
I will venture at a future date to communicate by your kindness any further information that may be of interest about these coming games. Meanwhile let me add that I shall take great pleasure in seeing any Harvard man, who finds his way out here, and to whom I can be of any service. Thanking you for this kind indulgence,
I remain, yours faithfully,
Athens, Feb. 10,1895.