Brazil’s 1932 Olympic team: how bad?

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Despite the Great Depression, the 1932 Summer Olympics were held in Los Angeles, with many countries unable to send athletes. Brazilian Olympians sold coffee beans to afford the $1 per athlete disembarkation fee. The Olympics saw the beginning of the Olympic Village and the gold-silver-bronze podium. Babe Didrikson won two gold medals for the USA, and it was later discovered that Stanislawa Walasiewicz of Poland was actually a man. The 3,000m steeplechase event had an extra lap due to an official’s mistake.

Although the Great Depression crippled countries around the world, the 1932 Summer Olympic Games were held in Los Angeles as planned, even though many countries could not afford to send athletes. Less than half of those who competed in Amsterdam in 1928 returned, and those who made their way to Los Angeles had to go to great lengths to afford it. For example, Brazilian Olympians were forced to load a ship full of coffee beans to sell at roadside ports, just so they could pay the $1 per athlete disembarkation fee charged at the Port of Los Angeles. Only 67 of the 82 Brazilian Olympians were able to step off the boat and compete, and none won a medal. Brazil’s water polo team had a particularly poor performance. After being defeated by the United States in their opening match, the players vented their frustrations in their next match against Germany by physically assaulting a Hungarian referee and being banned from the tournament.

Read more about the 1932 Olympics:

In 1932, two Olympic traditions began. It was the first time that athletes had been hosted in an Olympic Village, and it was also the first time that medal winners had been honored on a gold-silver-bronze podium.
Babe Didrikson took home two gold medals for the USA, winning the javelin and hurdles events. Stanislawa Walasiewicz of Poland won gold in the women’s 100m, but after her death in 1980, it was established that ‘she’ was a ‘he’.
An official made a mistake during the 3.000m steeplechase event and the race went one additional lap, making the total distance 3.460m.

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