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Rome 1960

Dramatic setting

Rome finally got its chance to stage the Olympic Games, 54 years after Italy had to give up hosting the Games. The Italians made the most of their ancient history, holding the wrestling competition in the Basilica of Maxentius and gymnastics in the Caracalla Baths.

Repeat performers

Paul Elvstrom of Denmark won his fourth consecutive yachting gold medal in the single-handed dinghy class. Hungarian fencer Aladar Gerevich earned his sixth consecutive gold medal in the team sabre event, and in canoeing Sweden’s Gert Fredriksson won his sixth gold medal.

Barefoot and victorious

Running barefoot, the Ethiopian runner Abebe Bikila did not go unnoticed when he entered the marathon. He refused to be daunted by condescending remarks, however, leaving all his opponents behind and crossing the finishing line victorious under Constantine's triumphal arch. In doing so, he became the first black African Olympic champion.

A star is born

Cassius Marcellus Clay of the US, later known as Muhammad Ali, first gained international prominence by winning the light-heavyweight gold medal. He would later turn professional and embark on a phenomenal career.

NOCs: 83
Athletes: 5,338 (611 women, 4,727 men)
Events: 150 events
Volunteers: n/a
Media: n/a

Rome, the eternal city

These Games saw a close union between sport and culture in this city on the banks of the Tiber with a rich historical past. The marble stadium, the Caracalla thermal baths, the Albano lake, the Constantine triumphal arch - ancient surroundings for the Olympic competitions

A definitive official anthem

In 1958 the IOC made the decision to adopt the Anthem composed by Spiros Samaras, with words by Kostis Palamas, as the official Olympic Anthem. Following this decision, for the Games of the Olympiad, it was first played in Rome. The Anthem had originally been composed for the celebration of the Games of the I Olympiad that took place in Athens in 1896.

Consequences of apartheid

The Games in Rome were the last Games in which South Africa was allowed to participate for a period of some 32 years - until 1992 - as the International Olympic Committee could not tolerate the racist policies of the South African government.

Millions of television viewers

These Games were broadcast live in 18 European countries and, with only a few hours delay, to the United States, Canada and Japan.


Rome 25 August 1960. The Italian delegation (ITA).

Official opening of the Games by:
President Giovanni Gronchi

Lighting the Olympic Flame by:
Giancarlo Peris (athletics)

Olympic Oath by:
Adolfo Consolini (athletics)

Official Oath by:
The officials' oath at an Olympic Summer Games was first sworn in 1972 in Munich.

Rome 1960 Emblem

It is made up of the Olympic rings above a Roman she-wolf, from which Remus and Romulus are suckling. They are the twin brothers who, according to legend, founded the city of Rome. Between them, is the date, 1960, written in roman numerals.

Rome 1960 Medals

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 in 1921. For these Games, the picture of victory is accompanied by the specific inscription: "GIOCCHI DELLA XVII OLIMPIADE ROMA MCMLX".

Something new: the medals in Rome were set in a circle of bronze featuring a laurel wreath matched with a chain also designed like a sequence of bronze laurel leaves. 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.

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Rome 1960 Torch

Number of torchbearers: 1 529 (330 in Greece and 1 199 in Italy)
Total distance: around 1 863 km (transport by boat not included) : 330 km in Greece and 1 533 in Italy
Countries crossed: Greece, Italy

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Rome 1960 Poster

This was the result of a competition in which some 212 artists participated. It is made up of a Roman she-wolf, from which Remus and Romulus, founders of the city of Rome, are suckling, on top of a column. On this, there is a victorious athlete being crowned in accordance with Roman custom; around him, people dressed in togas cheering him. Some 290,000 copies in 11 languages were produced.


Ancient Greece was the birthplace of the Olympic Games, but Rome’s past is just as glorious! Proud of its grandeur, the city gave it pride of place on everything, everywhere!

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Rome 1960 Official Reports

The official report published after the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome, “The Games of the XVII Olympiad Rome, 1960”, consists of two volumes, published in English and Italian. Totalling almost 2,000 pages, it was the longest official report ever produced.

  • Rome 1960
    • Rome 1960

      12 Mar 2014 |
      The official report published after the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome, “The Games of the XVII Olympiad Rome, 1960”, consists of two volumes, published in English and Italian. Totalling almost 2,000 pages, it was the longest official report ever produced.



Rome 1960 Wilma Rudolph stormed to gold


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Rome 1960-Opening ceremony, the delegations: Japan (JPN).
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Rome 1960-Olympic flags in front of the Coliseum.
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Rome 1960-Sports stadium.
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Rome 1960-Aerial view of the Olympic stadium during a football match.
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Rome 1960-Opening ceremony: Giancarlo PERIS (ITA) lit the Olympic flame.
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Pat Smythe

8th September 1960: Pat Smythe of Great Britain competing in the Olympic Individual show-jumping even at the Piazza di Siena in Rome. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

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