- The 1960 winter games were held in Squaw Valley, California (which is near Reno, NV). The area was largely developed after the games were awarded in 1955. The developments ran short however, and the bobsled competitions were canceled. These opening ceremonies were developed by Walt Disney (and that must have been something!). South Africa joined the winter games for the first time and then were promptly prohibited due to apartheid. They didn't come back until 1994. The biathlon made it's debut as did women's speed skating. The skating was still done outdoors and the pictures are better for it.
- Rome hosted the summer games of 1960. They had been in line for the 1908 games but Vesuvius went and ashed all over those plans. They held a number of events in ancient settings and I bet it was quite something to watch. Pope John XXIII blessed all of the athletes save those of the Soviet Union. (I'm guessing they declined the blessing but the book doesn't say.) The marathon was won by a barefoot Ethiopian runner named Abebe Bikila. The official poster shows Remus and Romulus suckling from a she wolf. I dare, no, double dog dare any future Olympic host to top that for sheer awesomeness. In sports news, a young American boxer named Cassius Clay won a gold medal. I wonder what ever happened to him after that?
- Winter of 1964 finds us in Innsbruck where (stop me if you've heard this before) they had trouble with a lack of snow. Austrian troops brought some 25,000 tons of snow down from the mountains. The luge made its debut and the bobsled returned. For the first time, the winter games torch was also lit in Olympia and then relayed to Innsbruck. The pictures of the athletes look more normal to me, as they are closer to what I grew up with.
- Asia finally hosted the games when the 1964 summer games went to Tokyo. It had been slated to host the 1940 games but that went awry. The Japanese had aggressively built their infrastructure for the games and there was universally acclaimed. The games were watched by more than 90 countries on the TV, a new record. Volleyball was made an official sport. Judo was also introduced. The host Japanese were expected to dominate but the first gold medal went to a Dutchman named Antonius Greesink. The torch was lit by a student who had been born near Hiroshima on the day that the atom bomb was dropped there.
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
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