Superb Winter Games meets with universal acclaim
On 5 February 1956, the Closing Ceremony of the VII Olympic Winter Games took place in Cortina d’Ampezzo’s Ice Stadium in front of 12,000 spectators. It was preceded by an exhibition of men’s, women’s and pairs figure skating, as well as the medal ceremony for Antti Hyvärinen, Aulis Kallakorpi and Harry Glass, the top three finishers in the ski jumping event, which had been held that morning.
The flag bearers of the participating countries made a joyous entrance, as did the six Italian athletes charged with carrying the Olympic flag, which was raised alongside the Greek, Italian and American flags, because Squaw Valley had been handed hosting duties for the 1960 Winter Games. The anthems of those three countries were then played.
IOC President Avery Brundage declared the Games closed, before a massive fireworks display lit up the night sky above the Dolomites.
Praise for the Games was unanimous. In the Official Report, Ditlev Simonsen, President of the Organising Committee of the 1952 Winter Games in Oslo, reflected: “I have just returned to Norway from Cortina, and I should like to repeat my warmest congratulations to you and to the Organising Committee for the perfect way in which the events of the VII Olympic Winter Games were organised, and held. On every hand I have heard nothing but a chorus of praise from the athletes, the officials and the public, all of whom are agreed that the Games were a hundred per cent successful.”
Marc Hodler, President of the International Ski Federation (FIS) added: “We would like to once again express our sincere admiration and profound gratitude for the excellent and unsurpassable organisation of these Games. Our federation, its officials and its members will always have a wonderful memory of these marvellous few days spent in Cortina.”
Meanwhile, Sir Arnold Lunn, a pioneer of competitive Alpine skiing wrote: “I have been to five Winter Games, and none have been better organised than they were in Cortina. And never has the spirit been better. The Italians have done their best to carry on the tradition which Baron de Coubertin did his best to create (…).When the last competitors came down the slalom course, the Italians were asked on the loudspeaker to give them a special cheer as they came from countries with no mountains and the crowd responded with enthusiasm!”
Swiss newspaper Tribune de Lausanne summed up the prevailing view, describing the Cortina Games as “an unprecedented success, from a sporting point of view and in all other aspects,” adding that they would “surely become a template for other host cities.”