24 - Questions of Calendar

Unsichtbares Akkordeon

1908: Late Russians do not shoot


In the year 1908, the Olympic Games lasted 6 whole months. And yet, the Russian team managed not to be present for the shooting competition on July 11th. The problem was that they were still using the Julian calendar instead of the Georgian Calendar like the rest of Europe. This only changed with the Russian revolution in 1917. When the Russian delegation finally arrived, a month and a half of the Games was already over. They were able to compete in some other disciplines and win some medals. This, however, was a small comfort for the shooting team.

The 1908 Olympics, however, were not only remarkable because of this calendric confusion. Documentation left much to be desired, as well. For instance, it’s still debatable whether Turkey was represented at the games at all!

The story shows that establishing agreed conventions and standards is vital - be it for the smooth implementation of international competitions or in science. Without a clear definition of the standards used, data from third parties might not be interpreted or replicated correctly, if laboratory notebooks or memos are misunderstood.