Despite the Great Depression crippling countries around the world, the 1932 Summer Olympic Games went on in Los Angeles as scheduled, even though many countries could not afford to send athletes. Fewer than half of those who competed in Amsterdam in 1928 returned, and those who did travel to Los Angeles had to go to great lengths to be able to afford it. For example, Brazil's Olympians were forced to load a ship full of coffee beans to sell at ports along the way, just to be able to pay the $1 per athlete disembarkation tax charged at the Port of Los Angeles.
Only 67 of the 82 Brazilian Olympians were able to get off the boat and compete, and none won a medal. Brazil's water polo team had a particularly poor performance. After being beaten by the United States in the opening match, the players took out their frustrations in the next game against Germany by physically assaulting a Hungarian referee and getting banished from the tournament.
More about the 1932 Olympics:
- Two Olympic traditions began in 1932. It was the first time that athletes were housed in an Olympic Village, and it was also the first time that medal winners were honored on a gold-silver-bronze podium.
- Babe Didrikson brought home two gold medals for the United States, winning the javelin and hurdles events. Poland's Stanislawa Walasiewicz won gold in the women's 100 meters race, but after her death in 1980, it was determined that "she" was a "he."
- An official made a mistake during the 3,000-meter steeplechase event and the race went an additional lap -- making the total distance 3,460 meters.