Opening march of the 1931 Workers' Olympiad in Vienna.
The Workers' Olympiads were created as a counterweight for the Olympic Games, which were criticized for being confined for the upper social classes and privileged people. The international workers' sports movement did not believe that the true Olympic spirit could be achieved in an Olympic movement dominated by the aristocratic leadership. Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the International Olympic Committee, had always opposed women's participation and supported the cultural superiority of white Europeans over other races. His followers, Henri de Baillet-Latour and Avery Brundage, were openly anti-semitic and both collaborated with the Nazis. On the contrary, the Workers' Olympiads opposed all kinds of chauvinism, sexism, racism and social exclusiveness. The Olympic Games were based in rivalry between the nations, but the Workers' Olympiads stressed internationalism, friendship, solidarity and peace.
National flags were not used, but a red flag of international workers' movement. The best athletes were awarded with diplomas, they did not receive medals like in the Olympic Games. The visiting athletes stayed mostly at private accommodation of local families.
International Workers' Olympiads were more than just a games for the top athletes. The festival was based on a mass participation, it did not restrict entry on the grounds of sporting ability. 1931 Workers' Summer Olympiad in Vienna was the largest event with the participation of 100,000 athletes from 26 countries. The Vienna Workers' Olympiad attracted some 250,000 spectators. It was much bigger event than the 1932 Summer Olympics at Los Angeles, both in number of participants as well as spectators.Praterstadion (now Ernst-Happel-Stadion) was constructed between 1929 and 1931 for the 1931 Olympiad. The last Workers' Olympiad at Antwerp in 1937 was a joint event with the Red Sport International organized Spartakiads.
Olympiads, hosts and number of participating countries