This development has been made possible by the engagement of the Bright Path Strong organisation, supported by IOC Member Anita DeFrantz. They contacted the Swedish Olympic Committee (SOC) and the surviving family members of Hugo K. Wieslander, who was named as the gold medallist in decathlon when Thorpe was stripped of his medals in 1913. They confirmed that Wieslander himself had never accepted the Olympic gold medal allocated to him, and had always been of the opinion that Jim Thorpe was the sole legitimate Olympic gold medallist. When contacted by the IOC, the SOC also declared that Thorpe should be acknowledged as the sole Olympic champion in decathlon at the Olympic Games Stockholm 1912.
The same declaration was received from the Norwegian Olympic and Paralympic Committee and Confederation of Sports, whose athlete, Ferdinand Bie, was named as the gold medallist when Thorpe was stripped of the pentathlon title.
IOC President Thomas Bach said: “We welcome the fact that, thanks to the great engagement of Bright Path Strong, a solution could be found. This is a most exceptional and unique situation, which has been addressed by an extraordinary gesture of fair play from the National Olympic Committees concerned.”
With this decision, Thorpe’s name will now be displayed as the sole gold medallist in pentathlon and decathlon, with the silver going to Bie in the pentathlon and Wieslander in the decathlon. However, James Donahue, from the US, and Frank Lukeman, from Canada, will keep the silver and bronze medals in pentathlon that they were awarded when the results were amended in 1913. The same applies to Charles Lomberg (silver) and Gösta Holmér (bronze), both from Sweden, in the decathlon.
In addition, World Athletics, as the responsible International Sports Federation for track and field, has agreed to amend its records to reflect this decision.
Jim Thorpe, the Native American track and field athlete whose original given name of Wa-Tho-Huk means “Bright Path”, won both events at the 1912 Games, but was stripped of his Olympic titles one year later. The Amateur Athletic Union (AAU), the predecessor of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC), deemed that he had infringed the rules regarding amateurism in place at the time.
After Thorpe was reinstated by the AAU (in 1973) and the USOC (in 1975), the IOC Executive Board resolved in 1982 to restore his status as an amateur at the request of the USOC. Following this change of status, the IOC decided that the IOC President should present the two medals to Thorpe’s children during a ceremony with the USOC, and that his name should be added to those of the other gold medal winners, but the official report of the 1912 Games should remain unchanged, meaning that the other 1912 medallists were not declassified.
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