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Vahram Papazyan (Armenian: Վահրամ Փափազեան) (12 September 1892 – 6 March 1986) was an Armenian athlete. He was one of two athletes that represented the Ottoman Empire's first official appearance in the Olympic Games.[1][2][3][4] Vahram Papazyan, along with fellow Armenian Mıgırdiç Mıgıryan, were the only two athletes who represented the empire in the country's first official participation of the Olympics.[3] Papazyan participated in Men's 800 metres and Men's 1500 metres.[4][5]

Vahram Papazyan
Vahram Papazyan.jpg
Personal information
NationalityOttoman/American (after 1922)
Born(1892-09-12)12 September 1892
Constantinople, Ottoman Empire
Died6 March 1986(1986-03-06) (aged 93)
United States
SportTrack and field
Event(s)1912 Summer Olympics
Updated on 4 February 2013.



Of Armenian descent, Vahram Papazyan was born in Constantinople and was the son of Sarkis who was a newsstand owner.[2] During the dawn of every morning, Papazyan would run from his residence in the Bebek neighborhood of Istanbul to the Babiali to pick up news and return it to his fathers kiosk.[2] After completing this task, Papazyan ran to Robert College where he attended school.[2]

In the 1906 Intercalated Games held in Athens, Vahram Papazyan participated in the 800 meters and 1,500 meters run finishing 8th place and not finishing respectively.[6] At the age of 13 years and 256 days, Papazyan was the youngest man to compete at the 1906 Athens Olympics.[7]

When Turkey was admitted to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 1911, president of Turkey's Olympic committee Selim Sırrı Tarcan placed advertisements in the local Ikdam and Sabah newspapers in order to recruit athletes for the 1912 Olympic Games in Stockholm.[2] Papazyan immediately responded to the advertisement and expressed his desires to participate in the games.[2]

In order to cover the costs of the trip, Vahram Papazyan requested financial assistance from the Armenian sports club Ardavast in which he was a member of.[2] In order to raise money and awareness for Papazyan, the Ardavast sports club organized a theatrical play at the Greek Theatre in the Arnavutköy neighborhood of Constantinople where Papazyan himself played a minor acting role.[2] Due to the success of the event, the funds ultimately covered Papazyan's entire Olympic expenses.[2]

Upon arriving in Stockholm, Papazyan noticed that the streets and important buildings were adorned with flags of all the countries participating in the Olympic Games, but there was no Ottoman flag:

I took a car and went straight to the Turkish embassy to express my anger. With suitcases still in hand, I demanded immediate action. After introducing myself and receiving congratulations from the ambassador, I said: “Bey Effendi, Stockholm is depressing to me and I would like to return to my country with my suitcases on my arm. All of Stockholm is adorned with foreign flags, but not the Turkish flag, and this is an insult to me and my country. I will only stay here if measures are taken so the flag of my country flies among all the others. The Turkish ambassador petrified for a moment. Like many others, he couldn’t believe that an Armenian could have such a strong love and respect for their Turkish country. He probably did not realize the clear fact that the Armenians have always loved their Turkish country, that it was the Turks who didn’t love their loyal Armenian subjects, and have always been persecuting them on each occasion...

— Papazyan[8]

And two hours later, the Turkish flag was flying on every corner, thanks to a young Armenian, who in a few years would be mourning millions of unburied corpses of Armenians, all of them having been massacred by the Turks.

— Dr. Hayk Demoyan on Papazyan’s memoirs[8]

After his participation in the Olympics, Vahram Papazyan returned to the Ottoman Empire. After graduating from Robert College in 1913, he was instrumental in the founding of the Armenian General Athletic Association.[9]

When the Armenian Genocide ensued, Papazyan managed to survive and eventually settled in Beirut.[10]

He married Annette Egavian and had two sons named Robert and Harold and two daughters named Yolanda and Diane.[9]

Vahram Papazyan ultimately moved to the United States where he became an electrical engineer.[9] He was associated with the Eddy & Co. in Providence, Rhode Island for more than 35 years before retiring.[9] He died in the Armenian Home for the Aged in Emerson at the age of 92.[2][9] He is buried at the Swan Point Cemetery in Providence, Rhode Island.[9]


Fifth Olympic games in Stockholm, second from the right is Vahram Papazyan

In the 1912 Summer Olympics, Vahram Papazyan did not finish both the Men's 800 metres and Men's 1500 metres.[5]

According to the Turkish Ministry of Youth and Sports, during the Men's 1500 metres, Vahram Papazyan had a "fabulous tempo" and was leading the race which positioned him for first place. However, when about 20–25 meters remained in the race, Papazyan suddenly felt dizzy and collapsed.[2]

However, according to Vahram Papazyan's grandson, the reasons as to why Vahram Papazyan did not finish the races were entirely different. According to his grandson:[11]

On the other hand, it is reported by the Armenian weekly Agos newspaper that in a letter written while he was still in Beirut, Vahram Papazyan was disappointed that Turkish flags were not used as part of the Olympic decorations in the city of Stockholm.[12] According to the letter, Papazyan went to the local Turkish embassy and expressed his concerns.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Vahram Papazyan". Türk Ansiklopedisi (in Turkish). Milli Eǧitim Basımevi. 25: 417. 1946. Retrieved 4 February 2013. Bunlardan Vahram Papazyan, Stokholm sefirimizin eşi tarafından kırmızı atlet fanilesinin üzerine dikilen beyaz Ay – yıldız altında yarışan ilk atletimiz oldu. Türkiye'nin ilk defa bir O. O.'nda devletçe gönderilen resmî bir sporcu kafilesiyle temsili
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "" (in Turkish). T.C. Genclik ve Spor Bakanligi (Republic of Turkey Youth and Sport Ministry). Osmanlı Olimpiyat Cemiyeti artık kurulmuştu ve bu iki sporcu bu derneğin verdiği belgelerle resmen bir Olimpiyat Oyunları'na ilk kez katılıyorlardı. Bu sporcularımız Vahram Papazyan ve Mırgırdıç Mıgıryan Efendiler idi. External link in |title= (help); Missing or empty |url= (help)
  3. ^ a b Heijmans, Bill Mallon, Jeroen (11 August 2011). Historical dictionary of the Olympic movement (4th ed.). Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press. ISBN 9780810875227.
  4. ^ a b Demoyan, Hayk (2009). Armenian Sport in Ottoman Empire. Yerevan: Tigran Mets. p. 220.
  5. ^ a b Erik Bergvall (ed.). The fifth Olympiad: the official report of the Olympic games of Stockholm, 1912 (PDF). Translated by Edward Adams-Ray. Swedish Olympic Committee. Archived from the original (PDF) on 10 April 2008. Retrieved 4 February 2013.
  6. ^ "Coubertin / Selim Sırı ve Türkiye- Uluslararası Olimpiyad Komitesi (IOC) İlişkileri" (in Turkish). Turkish National Olympic Committee. Archived from the original on 29 January 2013. Retrieved 4 February 2013.
  7. ^ Young and old get set for Olympics. (25 July 2012). Gulf News.
  9. ^ a b c d e f "Vahram S. Papazian; ran in 1912 Olympics". Providence Journal. Providence, R.I.: C-02 11 March 1986.
  10. ^ Koptas, Rober (26 July 2012). "Olimpiyat tarihinin gayrı resmi sayfası". Agos (in Turkish). Archived from the original on 28 October 2012. Retrieved 4 February 2013. 1915’te yaşanan katliamlar sırasında hayatta kalabilen ve daha sonra Beyrut’a yerleşen Vahram Papazyan
  11. ^ "Stories of my Grandfather". AIM: Armenian International Magazine. Glendale, CA: AIM. 4: XLVII. 1993. Retrieved 4 February 2013. I remember stories about my grandfather, Vahram Papazian, who ran the Decathlon in the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm. Grandpa would tell us how, suddenly, two lengths ahead of the nearest contender, it dawned on him that if he won, the Turkish flag would be raised. So he stopped.
  12. ^ "Olimpiyat tarihinin gayrı resmi sayfası". Agos (in Turkish). 26 July 2012. Archived from the original on 28 October 2012. Retrieved 4 February 2013. “Sabah Stockholm’e vardığımda, sokakların ve büyük binaların olimpiyatlara katılan irili ufaklı ülkelerin bayraklarıyla donatıldığını gördüm. Ama hiçbir yerde Türk bayrağı yoktu. Bu durum beni çok üzdü. Nihayetinde vatanımın, Türkiye’nin temsilcisiydim ve ülkeme karşı gösterilen bu çirkin tavır, benim için bir aşağılamaydı. Barınmam için bana ayrılan mekâna varmadan, bir araba tuttum ve doğrudan Türk elçiliğine gittim. Öfkemi anlatacak ve hemen bir çare bulunmasını rica edecektim.”