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Melbourne won the right to host the 1956 Olympic Games by one vote over Buenos Aires. Australian quarantine laws were too severe to allow the entry of foreign horses, so the equestrian events were held separately in Stockholm in June.
French long-distance runner Alain Mimoun had tasted Olympic defeat on the track three times at the hands of Czech Emil Zátopek. However, in the marathon it was Mimoun who pulled away to record a comfortable victory. He waited at the finish line for Zátopek, his old friend and great rival, who trotted home in sixth place
The US basketball team, led by Bill Russell and K.C. Jones, put on the most dominant performance in Olympic history. They scored more than twice as many points as their opponents and won each of their games by at least 30 points.
Prior to 1956, the athletes in the Opening and Closing Ceremonies marched in alphabetical order by National Olympic Committees. However, in Melbourne, following a suggestion by a young Australian named John Ian Wing, the athletes entered the stadium together during the Closing Ceremony as a symbol of global unity.
Athletes: 3,314 (376 women, 2,938 men)
This was the first time that the Games had been held in Oceania.
To allow for the equestrian sports to be held and to avoid the problem of quarantine for horses entering Australia, the Games took place in two different cities (Stockholm and Melbourne), in two different countries (Sweden and Australia), on two different continents (Europe and Oceania) and in two different seasons (June and November). This is the only time in the Games' hundred-year existence that the unity of time and place, as stipulated in the Charter, has not been observed.
The International Olympic Committee had great political success in managing to bring together the two Germanys (East and West) within a combined team (EUA) competing under a black, red and yellow flag with the Olympic rings, and with "Ode to Joy" from Beethoven's IX Symphony as their anthem. This practice would take place for the following two editions of the Games.
The Soviet invasion of Hungary provoked protests from numerous western countries, and some of them, such as Spain, Switzerland and the Netherlands, withdrew from the Games. On another matter, Egypt, Lebanon and Iraq refused to participate in protest of the Franco-British Suez intervention. And the People's Republic of China refused to participate because of the presence of the Republic of China (Taiwan). This conflict would take 28 years to be resolved.
The 1956 Games were also marked by an innovation in the Closing Ceremony. Upon the suggestion of John Ian Wing, a Chinese apprentice carpenter living in Australia, it was decided to let all the athletes parade together, rather than by country, as a symbol of world unity.
In fencing, the electric foil was introduced, and in swimming, the semi-automatic, digital-display timing device appeared.
Melbourne 22 November 1956. Opening Ceremony. The Olympic flame is lit.
Official opening of the Games by:
HRH the Duke of Edinburgh
Lighting the Olympic Flame by:
Ron Clarke (athletics)
Olympic Oath by:
John Landy (athletics)
Official Oath by:
The officials' oath at an Olympic Summer Games was first sworn in 1972 in Munich.
It is composed of a drawing of Australia, with a torch and Olympic rings superimposed. In the bottom half, the inscription "MELBOURNE 1956", extended on each side by laurel branches.
On the obverse, the traditional goddess of victory, holding a palm in her left hand and a winner’s crown in her right. A design used since the 1928 Games in Amsterdam, created by Florentine artist Giuseppe Cassioli (ITA -1865-1942) and chosen after a competition organised by the International Olympic Committee. For these Games, the picture of victory is accompanied by the specific inscription: "XVIth OLYMPIAD MELBOURNE 1956".
On the reverse, an Olympic champion carried in triumph by the crowd, with the Olympic stadium in the background. N.B: From 1928 to 1968, the medals for the Summer Games were identical. The Organising Committee for the Games in Munich in 1972 broke new ground by having a different reverse which was designed by a Bauhaus representative, Gerhard Marcks.
On the obverse, the ancient horse and rider emblem of the Equestrian Games in Stockholm accompanied by the specific inscription “XVI OLYMPIADENS RYTTARTAVLINGAR 1956 STOCKHOLM” . The obverse was designed by John Sjösvard.
On the reverse, the Olympic rings with a superimposed torch, a composition based on the design by the Greek artist Vasos Falireas (1905-1979) and approved by the International Olympic Committee. In the background "OLYMΓIA". Around the design, the motto "CITIUS ALTIUS FORTIUS" and the inscription "JEUX OLYMPIQUES".
Number of torchbearers: 3 181
Total distance: around 20 470 km (including air transport), terrestrial distance covered : 4 912 km
Countries crossed: Greece, Australia with stopovers in Istanbul, Basrah, Karachi, Calcutta, Bangkok, Singapore, and Djakarta
Number of torchbearers: 330 runners in Greece and approx. 160 horse riders in Denmark and Sweden
Total distance: around 325 km in Greece
Countries crossed: Greece, Denmark, and Sweden
It is in the form of an invitation card folded three times. On the first flap, the Olympic rings, in the background of the third flap, the arms of the city of Melbourne. 35,000 copies were made in two different formats (100 x 63.5cm and 50 x 32cm).
Having the equestrian events in Stockholm rather than Melbourne naturally had an impact on the official report. Indeed, the organisers of the equestrian Games in Stockholm decided to publish their own official report. There are thus two official reports, “The official report of the Organizing Committee for the Games of the XVI Olympiad Melbourne 1956”, published in 1958, and “The Official Report of the Organizing Committee for the Equestrian Games of the XVIth Olympiad”, published in 1959. The first is only in English; the second is in both English and Swedish.