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London 1948

Rising to the challenge

The Olympic Games had not been held in either 1940 or 1944 due to World War II, and London was called upon at short notice to host them. Despite shortages of essential products due to rationing, the city rose magnificently to the challenge - a true victory over dark times.

Innovation and progress

The London Games were the first to be shown on home television, although very few people in Great Britain actually owned sets. Starting blocks for athletes in sprint races were introduced for the first time, and the Empire Pool was the first covered Olympic pool to be used at the Games.

Memorable performances

Seventeen-year-old American Bob Mathias won the decathlon only four months after taking up the sport. He remains the youngest athlete in Olympic history to win a men’s athletics event. The dominant woman of the Games was sprinter Fanny Blankers-Koen of the Netherlands. She entered four sprint events and won all four.

Overcoming adversity

Karoly Takacs was a member of the Hungarian world champion pistol shooting team in 1938 when a grenade shattered his right hand - his pistol hand. Takacs taught himself to shoot with his left hand and, 10 years later, he won an Olympic gold medal in the rapid-fire pistol event.

NOCs: 59
Athletes: 4,104 (390 women, 3,714 men)
Events: 136
Volunteers: n/a
Media: n/a

Participation

Many countries, including Burma, Ceylon, Lebanon, Puerto Rico, Syria and Venezuela, were represented for the first time. On the other hand, there were no athletes from Japan, Germany or the USSR.

Innovation in athletics

Introduction of blocks to facilitate the start for athletes in sprint races (100m to 400m).

Recognition

Diplomas awarded to the first six athletes.

Swimming under cover

The Empire Pool was the first covered Olympic pool in history. Located not far from Wembley, it could house 8,000 spectators. As its length exceeded the regulatory 50m for an Olympic pool, a wooden platform was constructed to shorten it and to house the judges and officials.

Ceremonies

London, Wembley Stadium, 29 July 1948, Opening Ceremony: last torch-bearer John Mark passing the Tribune of Honour, is applauded by members of the Organising Committee.

Official opening of the Games by:
His Majesty King George VI

Lighting the Olympic Flame by:
John Mark (athletics)

Olympic Oath by:
Donald Finlay (athletics)

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

London 1948 Emblem

It is composed of the clock tower of the Houses of Parliament. The hands of the famous "Big Ben" are pointing to 4 o'clock, the time at which the opening of the Games was planned. In the foreground, the Olympic rings. The Games Organising Committee wanted a typically English emblem, but one that would have significance not only for the generation of that time, but for future generations as well.

London 1948 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. For these Games, the picture of victory is accompanied by the specific inscription: "XVIII OLYMPIAD LONDON 1948".

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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London 1948 Torch

Number of torchbearers: 1 416 (sources may differ)
Total distance: 3 365 km
Countries crossed: Greece, Italy, Switzerland, France, Luxembourg, Belgium, and United Kingdom

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London 1948 Poster

It takes up the theme of the emblem i.e. the clock tower of the Houses of Parliament. The hands of the famous "Big Ben" are pointing to 4 o'clock, the time at which the opening of the Games was planned- accompanied by the Olympic rings. In the foreground, there was the drawing of the statue of the "Discobolus" (classical icon of the discus thrower from Ancient Greece). There were 100,000 copies made, 50,000 large format and 25,000 small and regular formats.

London 1948 Official Reports

The general lack of resources for these first post-war Olympic Games had an impact on the official report, “The official report of the Organising Committee for the XIV Olympiad”. Published finally in 1951, its emphasis was on content rather than form, with a more modest approach than previous editions. It was produced only in English.






  • London 1948
    • London 1948

      12 Mar 2014 |
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      The general lack of resources for these first post-war Olympic Games had an impact on the official report, “The official report of the Organising Committee for the XIV Olympiad”. Published finally in 1951, its emphasis was on content rather than form, with a more modest approach than previous editions. It was produced only in English.


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