Sunday 24 May 2020

Melbourne Olympics (Australia, 1956)

The 1956 Summer Olympics (the 16th Olympiad) were held in Melbourne. Seasons and hemispheres being what they are, most events were held there in November and December, though the equestrian events had been held in Sweden in June.

The Games had their fair share of boycotts – Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Cambodia, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland and the People’s Republic of China stayed away for a variety of reasons. The Soviet Union had invaded Hungary not long before and there was a tense water polo match between the two nations in front of a pro-Hungary crowd.

This was the first Olympics where the closing ceremony featured all the athletes mingling together rather than walking behind national flags. The idea for that came from a 17-year-old carpenter’s apprentice who wrote an anonymous letter to the organising committee…

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