Host City: Paris, France
Date Started: July 14, 1900
Date Finished: July 16, 1900
Participants: 118 (118 men and 0 women) from 17 countries
Youngest Participant: Arthur Newton (17 years, 165 days)
Oldest Participant: Ion Pool (42 years, 239 days)
Most Medals (Athlete): Irv Baxter and Walter Tewksbury (5 medals)
Most Medals (Country): United States (39 medals)
The athletics events were the only events which received publicity in many countries as a part of the Olympic Games. Even the program to this sport labelled the events as "Championnats Universale." Multiple events were contested. In addition to the standard Olympic events, handicap contest and events for professionals were also held.
The "Sunday question" also muddled the affair. The French organizers wished to hold events, including several finals, on Sunday, 15 July. But the United States' representatives and athletes were vehemently opposed to competing on Sunday. On the Wednesday before competition began, a compromise was apparently reached. The New York Times reported that the organizers had agreed to allow American athletes in field events to compete on either Sunday or Monday, and that their marks would still count. But at the last minute, this ruling was apparently rescinded and the finals held on Sunday were just that – final. The Americans were incensed but there was little they could do, and besides, they had won most of the events.
The track & field athletics events were held on the grounds of the Racing Club de France at the Bois de Boulougne. No track was built; the events were simply run over a grass field, which had several dips and mounds in it. The "track" was 500 metres in length and also wound its way through a grove of trees at the beginning of the final straightaway. The discus throwers found many of their throws landing in the trees which greatly hindered their performance. Attendance was sparse, especially on 14 July, when the French celebrated Bastille Day. The weather was sunny throughout but on 16 and 19 July, it was unbearably hot, with temperatures above 35° C. (95° F.).