- We're up to 1952 when the winter games were held in Oslo. It sounds like Oslo went all out in building facilities that could handle the games. This is the first time this is mentioned so perhaps Oslo was the first city to use the Olympics for urban development. By this time the Germans and Japanese were allowed back to the games. It says that 'certificates of denazification were mandatory for entry' but there was no real hostility. (There is a joke there somewhere but I'll leave it alone.) Dick Button dominated the games which, if you've seen him on TV sounds strange. The oldest competitor for the women's cross country won gold. Frankly . . . these games sound kind of dull.
- For the 1952 summer games they stayed with Scandinavia and went to Helsinki. For the first time since 1912 the Russians were allowed to compete. They raised a stink and refused to be housed near those lousy capitalists. Other Eastern bloc countries followed suit and accommodations were made in student quarters. This was really the first of the cold war Olympics, with Korea acting as a sore point. The Germans had trouble figuring out how to field a joint East/West team. The German region of Saarland was allowed to send their own team. In actual sporting news, the American Bob Mathias became the first decathlete to successfully defend his previous gold medal.
- The 1956 winter games were held in the charmingly named Italian resort town of Cortina d'Ampezzo. Weather conditions were poor so they trucked in snow from further up in the Alps. On opening day, a large snowfall came and they ended up clearing the older snow away. The Germans figured out their snags and fielded a Pan-German team. These games had record participation; 818 athletes from 32 countries. It says that this was the first winter games to have live television coverage. That's hard to imagine now! The Soviet Union took gold in hockey and it wouldn't be their last time. There is a picture from one of theme games and no one is wearing helmets. The mind boggles. There is also a picture from the opening ceremony where one of the final torch bearers tripped over a cable on the ice rink and fell down. I don't know if the torch went out or not.
- So far all of the Olympic games have been held in Europe or the United States. The 1956 games finally broke that mold as the games were held in Melbourne, Australia. These were the first Southern hemisphere games and they were held in late November. The timing was apparently rough on some athletes. The Aussie government refused to relax the six month quarantine time for horses so the equestrian events were held in June in Stockholm. High costs of travel and various political events (Suez crisis, invasion of Hungary) caused various teams to boycott or otherwise decline to go. In actual sports, a final match in water polo was 'abandoned because of the misconduct of some of the players'. The host Australians did well at swimming, another tradition that still continues.
Sunday, June 10, 2012
For past entries, click on the 'Olympics' tag.