As we await the 2024 Paris Olympic Games, a selection of photographs from the collection of the French newspaper L'Équipe reconstructs a century of competitions.
Beijing Games, 4 x 100 meters, August 2, 2008. Single subsequent print, issue 1/1, printed on Hahnemühle FineArt Baryta satin paper 11 oz (300 g), Flamant frame, 21 x 31 in (53 x 80 cm).
© Richard Martin/L'Équipe
Now it is official: The 2024 Olympic Games will start on July 26, a century after the last Parisian edition and exactly one thousand days after this auction of prints from the photographic archive of the newspaper L'Équipe, which numbers more than 12 million pictures. Already last year, a first sale with the same provenance was presented by the same auction house. This time, the selection focuses on the highlights of a century of the Olympics, with images being offered at €500/1,800.
This chronological catalog opens with the parade of the French delegation in Antwerp on August 14, 1920, and ends with an emotional sequence showing the French team in Tokyo in 2020. The first section focuses on the opening and closing ceremonies of this great sporting event, which attracts up to 4.5 bn viewers worldwide. Some of these ceremonies have become part of our collective memory, like the magical ballet of levitating acrobats created by the dancer and choreographer Philippe Decouflé in Albertville, Savoie, 1992. Then, aficionados will be able to find their champions in their moments of glory, like Carl Lewis, the 10-medal man, whose aerial stride was captured on film in LA in 1984. The beauty of some pictures gives them an undeniable artistic value, as demonstrated by the one reproduced here. Some of the later single prints were printed on Awagami paper, and others on Hahnemühle Photo Rag® Metallic paper, highlighting their qualities.
These photographs express the values fostered by Pierre de Coubertin, thanks to whom the Games were revived in the stadium of Athens in 1896, fifteen centuries after they ceased to be organized in Greece. They advocate the fraternity regardless of differences: For example, in Sydney in 2000, the aboriginal athlete Cathy Freeman represented a united Australia to light the flame of the Olympic cauldron. Twenty years later, during the Tokyo Paralympic Games, the Frenchwoman Marie-Amélie Le Fur won her ninth medal in the long jump and is now involved in the preparation of Paris 2024. Although fair play is the rule, there is fierce competition among countries. The Games organized in Beijing in 2008 showed the world that it was important to consider China. By mirroring the relations among peoples, the Olympics also reveal the changes in our society. Skateboarding is now crowned with laurels, after long being deemed too unacademic. Sky Brown, who was only 13 years old, helped make the sport was a sensation in Tokyo last year. The new generation is for certain!