Melbourne, 1956

Fast Facts

Opening date: Nov. 22, 1956
Closing date:Dec. 8, 1956
Nations:67
Athletes: 3,184 athletes (371 women, 2,813 men)
Sports:145 events in 17 sports

Multiple Countries

The 1956 Games were held in Melbourne, Australia. Melbourne won the right to host the 1956 Olympics by one vote over Buenos Aires. Over 3,000 athletes participated from 67 countries.

These Olympics were the first where events took place in two countries. As quarantine laws did not allow the entry of foreign horses into Australia, equestrian events were held in Stockholm in June 1956. The rest of the Games started in late November, when it was summertime in the Southern Hemisphere.

Did you know that the Olympics were also held at a third country during 1956? the Olympics were also held in 1956 in Italy. The winter Olympics that is.

Boycotts

The Games were almost canceled due to an armed conflict both in Europe as well as Africa. In Europe, the Russians had invaded Hungary, while the British and French attacked Egypt in order to regain the Suez Canal. As a sign of protest 6 countries withdrew from the Olympics. The Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland because of the events in Hungary and Iraq and Lebanon because of the conflict in Suez. Less than two weeks before the opening ceremony, the People's Republic of China also pulled out because the Republic of China (Taiwan) had been allowed to compete. Although the Games were not canceled, there were many episodes such as in the water-polo match between Russia and Hungary.

Skeet Shooting medal ceremony at The 1956 Olympic GamesSkeet Shooting medal ceremony at The 1956 Olympic Games

Changes to the Closing Ceremony

Inspired by the Australian teenager John Wing, an Olympic tradition began when the athletes of different nations paraded together at the closing ceremony as a symbol of world unity, a tradition which continues to this day

"During the Games there will be only one nation. War, politics and nationalities will be forgotten. What more could anybody want if the world could be made one nation." - Extract from a letter by John Ian Wing to the Olympic Organizers, 1956.

Although many references imply that before this date the athletes marched with their national teams, in a personal message from John Wing, he points out that athletes did not march in the Closing Ceremony at all until his letter in 1956.

This gesture, and the general feeling around the Games, resulted in the Melbourne Games being nicknamed "the Friendly Games". The song that ended the closing ceremony at the 1956 games was 'Will Ye No Come Back Again?'

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