The Info List - 1956 Summer Olympics

--- Advertisement ---

The 1956 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XVI Olympiad, were an international multi-sport event which was held in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, in November–December 1956, apart from the equestrian events, which were held five months earlier in Stockholm, Sweden. The 1956 Games were the first to be staged in the Southern Hemisphere
Southern Hemisphere
and Oceania, as well as the first to be held outside Europe and North America. Melbourne
is the southernmost city to host the games. Equestrian events could not be held in Australia due to quarantine regulations. This was the second Olympics not to be held entirely in one country, the first being the 1920 Summer Olympics, which Antwerp, Belgium, co-hosted with Amsterdam
and Ostend.


1 Host city selection 2 Prelude 3 Participation and boycotts 4 Events 5 Highlights

5.1 Olympic Flame
Olympic Flame

6 Medals awarded

6.1 Demonstration sports

7 Venues 8 Participating National Olympic Committees 9 Medal count 10 Buildings from the Olympics 11 See also 12 Notes 13 External links

Host city selection[edit] Melbourne
was selected as the host city over bids from Buenos Aires, Mexico
City, Montreal
and six American cities on 28 April 1949, at the 43rd IOC Session
IOC Session
in Rome, Italy.[1]

1956 Summer Olympics
1956 Summer Olympics
bidding results[2]

City Country Round 1 Round 2 Round 3 Round 4

Melbourne  Australia 14 18 19 21

Buenos Aires  Argentina 9 12 13 20

Los Angeles  United States 5 4 5 —

Detroit  United States 2 4 4 —

City  Mexico 9 3 — —

Chicago  United States 1 — — —

Minneapolis  United States 1 — — —

Philadelphia  United States 1 — — —

San Francisco  United States 0 — — —

Montreal  Canada 0 — — —

Prelude[edit] Many members of the IOC
were sceptical about Melbourne
as an appropriate site. Its location in the Southern Hemisphere
Southern Hemisphere
was a major concern, since the reversal of seasons would mean the Games must be held during the northern winter. The November–December schedule was thought likely to inconvenience athletes from the Northern Hemisphere, who were accustomed to resting during their winter.[citation needed] Notwithstanding these concerns, the field of candidates eventually narrowed to two Southern Hemisphere
Southern Hemisphere
cities, these being Melbourne
and Buenos Aires, Argentina. Melbourne
was selected, in 1949, to host the 1956 Olympics by a one-vote margin. The first sign of trouble was the revelation that Australian equine quarantine would prevent the country from hosting the equestrian events.[citation needed] Stockholm
was selected as the alternative site, so equestrian competition began on 10 June, five and a half months before the rest of the Olympic Games were to open, half a world away. The above problems of the Melbourne
Games were compounded by bickering over financing among Australian politicians. Faced with a housing shortage, the Premier of Victoria
Premier of Victoria
(Henry Bolte) refused to allocate money for the Olympic Village
Olympic Village
(eventually sited in Heidelberg West), and the country's Prime Minister (Robert Menzies) barred the use of federal funds.[citation needed] At one point, IOC
President Avery Brundage
Avery Brundage
suggested that Rome, which was to host the 1960 Games, was so far ahead of Melbourne
in preparations that it might be ready as a replacement site in 1956. As late as April 1955, Brundage was still doubtful about Melbourne, and was not satisfied by an inspection trip to the city. Construction was well under way by then, thanks to a $4.5 million federal loan to Victoria, but it was behind schedule. He still held out the possibility that Rome might have to step in. By the beginning of 1956, though, it was obvious that Melbourne
would be ready for the Olympics.[3] Participation and boycotts[edit]

Countries boycotting the 1956 Games are shaded blue

Egypt, Iraq, and Lebanon announced that they would not participate in the Olympics in response to the Suez Crisis
Suez Crisis
when Egypt was invaded by Israel, the United Kingdom, and France after Egypt nationalised the Suez canal. Meanwhile, in 1956 the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
crushed the Hungarian Revolution, and the Soviet presence at the Games led to the withdrawal of the Netherlands, Cambodia, Spain, and Switzerland. Less than two weeks before the 22 November opening ceremony, the People's Republic of China
chose to boycott the event because the Republic of China
had been allowed to compete. Although the number of countries participating (67) was almost the same as in 1952 (69), the number of athletes competing dropped sharply, from 4,925 to 3,342. (This figure does not include the 158 athletes from 29 countries who took part in the Stockholm
equestrian competition.) Events[edit] Once underway, the Games unfolded smoothly, and became known as the "Friendly Games". Betty Cuthbert, an 18-year-old from Sydney, won the 100 and 200 metre sprint races and ran a great final leg in the 4 x 100 metre relay to overcome Great Britain's lead and claim her third gold medal. The veteran Shirley Strickland
Shirley Strickland
repeated in the 80 metre hurdles and also ran on the relay team, running her career total to seven, three golds, a silver, and three bronze medals. Australia
also did well in swimming. They won all of the freestyle races, men's and women's, and collected a total of eight gold, four silver and two bronze medals. Murray Rose
Murray Rose
became the first male swimmer to win two freestyle events since Johnny Weissmuller
Johnny Weissmuller
in 1924, while Dawn Fraser
Dawn Fraser
won gold medals in the 100 metre freestyle and as the leadoff swimmer on the 4 x 100 metre relay team. United States
United States
men dominated track and field. They not only won 15 of 24 events, they swept four of them and finished first and second in five others. Bobby Morrow
Bobby Morrow
led the way with gold medals in the 100 and 200 metre dashes and the 4 x 100 metre relay. Tom Courtney
Tom Courtney
barely overtook Great Britain's Derek Johnson in the 800 metre run, then collapsed from the exertion and needed medical attention. Ireland's Ronnie Delany
Ronnie Delany
ran a brilliant 53.8 over the last 400 metres to win the 1,500 metre run, in which favourite John Landy
John Landy
of Australia finished third. There was a major upset, marred briefly by controversy, in the 3,000 metre steeplechase. Little-known Chris Brasher of Great Britain finished well ahead of the field, but judges announced that he was disqualified for interfering with Norway's Ernst Larsen, and they anointed Sándor Rozsnyói of Hungary as the winner. Brasher's appeal was supported by Larsen, Rozsnyói, and fourth-place finisher Heinz Laufer of Germany. The decision was reversed and Brasher became the first Briton to win a gold medal in track and field since 1936. Only two world records were set in track and field. Mildred McDaniel, the first American woman to win gold in the sport, set a high jump record of 1.76 metres (5.8 ft), and Egil Danielsen of Norway overcame a troublesome wind with a remarkable javelin throw of 85.71 metres (281.2 ft). Throughout the Olympics, Hungarian athletes were cheered by fans from Australia
and other countries. Many of them gathered in the boxing arena when thirty-year-old Laszlo Papp
Laszlo Papp
of Hungary won his third gold medal by beating José Torres
José Torres
for the light-middleweight championship. A few days later, the crowd was with the Hungarian water polo team in its match against the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
which took place against the background of the Soviet invasion of Hungary. The game became rough and, when a Hungarian was forced to leave the pool with blood streaming from a cut over his eye, a riot almost broke out. But police restored order and the game was called early, with Hungary leading 4–0. The Hungarians went on to win the gold medal. In a much publicized Olympic romance, American hammer throw champion Harold Connolly would marry Czechoslovak discus throw champion, Olga Fikotová. After moving to the U.S., Olga wanted to continue representing Czechoslovakia, but the Czechoslovak Olympic Committee refused to allow her to do so.[4] Thereafter, as Olga Connolly, she took part in every Olympics till 1972[4] competing for the United States.[5] She carried the flag for the United States
United States
at the 1972 Summer Olympics. Despite the international tensions of 1956 – or perhaps because of them – a young Melburnian, John Ian Wing, came up with a new idea for the closing ceremony. Instead of marching as teams, behind their national flags, the athletes mingled with one another as they paraded into and around the arena for a final appearance before the spectators. That began an Olympic tradition that has been followed ever since.[6] Highlights[edit]

These were the first Summer Olympic Games
Summer Olympic Games
under the IOC
presidency of Avery Brundage. Hungary and the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
(engaged in an armed conflict at the time) were both present at the Games which, among other things, led to a hotly contested and violent water polo encounter between the nations. Athletes from both East and West Germany
West Germany
competed in a combined team. This remarkable combination disappeared at the 1968 Summer Olympics. Australian athlete Betty Cuthbert
Betty Cuthbert
became the "Golden Girl" by winning three track gold medals. Her performance was equalled by sprinter Bobby Morrow. Another Australian, Murray Rose, won three gold medals in swimming. Bobby Morrow
Bobby Morrow
of the United States
United States
won gold in the 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay. Soviet runner Vladimir Kuts
Vladimir Kuts
won both the 5000m and 10000m. Inspired by Australian teenager John Wing, an Olympic tradition began when athletes of different nations are allowed to parade together at the closing ceremony, instead of with their national teams, as a symbol of world unity.

During the Games there will be only one nation. War, politics and nationalities will be forgotten. What more could anybody want if the world could be made one nation. —Extract from a letter by John Ian Wing to the Olympic organisers, 1956

Laszlo Papp
Laszlo Papp
defended his light-middleweight boxing title, gaining a record third gold. Ronnie Delany
Ronnie Delany
won gold for Ireland in the 1500m final. It is the last gold medal Ireland has won in a track event. The India national field hockey team won its sixth consecutive gold.

Olympic Flame
Olympic Flame

Torch Relay monument, Cairns

The Olympic Flame
Olympic Flame
was relayed to Melbourne
after being lit at Olympia on 2 November 1956.

Greek runners took the flame to Athens. The flame was transferred to a miner's lamp then flown by Qantas
Super Constellation aircraft "Southern Horizon" to Darwin, Northern Territory. A Royal Australian Air Force
Royal Australian Air Force
English Electric Canberra
English Electric Canberra
jet bomber flew it to Cairns, Queensland, where it arrived on 9 November 1956. The Mayor of Cairns, Alderman W.J. Fulton, lit the first torch. The torch design was – with the exception of the engraved city name and year – identical to the design used for the 1948 London Games. The first runner was Con Verevis, a local man of Greek parentage. The flame was relayed down the east coast of Australia
using diecast aluminium torches weighing about 3 pounds (1.8 kg). The flame arrived in Melbourne
on 22 November 1956. The Olympic Flame
Olympic Flame
was lit at the stadium by Ron Clarke, burning his arm in the process.

When the Olympic Flame
Olympic Flame
was being carried to Sydney, an Australian veterinary student named Barry Larkin carried a fake Olympic Flame
Olympic Flame
and fooled the mayor of Sydney.[7] Medals awarded[edit] The 1956 Summer Olympic programme featured 151 events (145 events in Melbourne
and 6 equestrian events in Stockholm)[8] in the following 17 sports:


Diving (4) Swimming (13) Water polo (1)

Athletics (33) Basketball (1) Boxing (10) Canoeing (9) Cycling

Road (2) Track (4)


Dressage (2) Eventing (2) Show jumping (2)

Fencing (7) Association football (1) Gymnastics (15) Field hockey (1) Modern pentathlon (2) Rowing (7) Sailing (5) Shooting (7) Weightlifting (7) Wrestling

Freestyle (8) Greco-Roman (8)

Demonstration sports[edit]

Australian football (1) Baseball (1)

Venues[edit] Main article: Venues of the 1956 Summer Olympics


Lake Wendouree
Lake Wendouree
– Canoeing, Rowing


Broadmeadows – Cycling (road) Hockey Field – Field hockey Melbourne
Cricket Ground – Athletics, Field hockey (final), Football (final) Oaklands Hunt Club – Modern pentathlon (riding, running) Olympic Park Stadium
Olympic Park Stadium
– Football Port Phillip Bay
Port Phillip Bay
– Sailing Royal Australian Air Force, Laverton Air Base – Shooting (shotgun) Royal Exhibition Building
Royal Exhibition Building
– Basketball (final), Modern pentathlon (fencing), Weightlifting, Wrestling St Kilda Town Hall
St Kilda Town Hall
– Fencing Swimming/Diving Stadium – Diving, Modern pentathlon (swimming), Swimming, Water polo Velodrome – Cycling (track) West Melbourne
Stadium – Basketball, Boxing, Gymnastics Williamstown – Modern pentathlon (shooting), Shooting (pistol, rifle)


– Equestrian (eventing) Olympic Stadium
Olympic Stadium
– Equestrian (dressage, eventing, jumping) Ulriksdal – Equestrian (eventing)

Participating National Olympic Committees[edit]

Participating countries, those making their début are shown in blue.

Number of athletes per country

A total of 67 nations competed in Melbourne. Cambodia (that competed only in the equestrian events in Stockholm), Ethiopia, Fiji, Kenya, Liberia, Federation of Malaya, North Borneo
North Borneo
(modern-day Sabah
of Malaysia), and Uganda made their Olympic debut. Athletes from East Germany and West Germany
West Germany
competed together as the United Team of Germany, an arrangement that would last until 1968. For the first time the team of Republic of China
effectively represented only Taiwan. Egypt did not compete in Melbourne
due to the Suez Crisis, whilst Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland all boycotted the Australian event in protest at the Soviet invasion of Hungary.[9]

Participating National Olympic Committees

 Afghanistan (12)  Argentina (28)  Australia (294) (host)  Austria (29)  Bahamas (4)  Belgium (51)  Bermuda (3)  Brazil (44)  Bulgaria (43)  Burma (11)  Canada (92)  Ceylon (3)  Chile (33)  Colombia (26)  Cuba (16)  Czechoslovakia (63)  Denmark (31)  Ethiopia (12)  Fiji (5)  Finland (71)  France (137)  United Team of Germany (158)  Great Britain (189)  Greece (13)  Guyana (4)  Hong Kong (2)  Hungary (108)  Iceland (2)  India (59)  Indonesia (22)  Iran (17)  Ireland (18)  Israel (3)  Italy (129)  Jamaica (6)  Japan (110)  Kenya (25)  Liberia (4)  Luxembourg (11)  Malaya (32)  Mexico (24)  New Zealand (53)  Nigeria (10)  North Borneo (2)  Norway (22)  Pakistan (55)  Peru (8)  Philippines (39)  Poland (64)  Portugal (11)  Puerto Rico (10)  Romania (44)  Singapore (52)  South Africa (50)  South Korea (35)  Soviet Union (272)  Sweden (88)  Republic of China (13)  Thailand (38)  Trinidad and Tobago (6)  Turkey (19)  Uganda (3)  United States (297)  Uruguay (21)  Venezuela (19)  Vietnam (6)  Yugoslavia (35)

Five nations competed in the equestrian events in Stockholm, but did not attend the Games in Melbourne:

 Cambodia (2)  Egypt (3)  Netherlands (1)  Spain (6)  Switzerland (9)

Medal count[edit] Main article: 1956 Summer Olympics
1956 Summer Olympics
medal table These are the top ten nations that won medals at the 1956 Games.

Rank Nation Gold Silver Bronze Total

1  Soviet Union 37 29 32 98

2  United States 32 25 17 74

3  Australia 13 8 14 35

4  Hungary 9 10 7 26

5  Italy 8 8 9 25

6  Sweden 8 5 6 19

7  United Team of Germany 6 13 7 26

8  Great Britain 6 7 11 24

9  Romania 5 3 5 13

10  Japan 4 10 5 19


  *   Host nation (Australia)

The heritage registered former Olympic Pool (now Westpac Centre) from the Yarra River.

Buildings from the Olympics[edit] Some buildings from the 1956 Olympics still survive. The former Olympic Pool remains as part of the Westpac Centre at the Olympic Park complex. The former athletes' village in Heidelberg West remains as public housing, and the small stadium there is home of local Association Football
Association Football
team Heidelberg United FC. Certain buildings predating the Olympics (such as St Kilda Town Hall, where the fencing events were held) and West Melbourne
Stadium (subsequently renamed Festival Hall ) still stand. The Olympic Stand at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, however, was demolished in 2004. See also[edit]

Olympics portal

1956 Winter Olympics Olympic Games
Olympic Games
celebrated in Australia

1956 Summer Olympics
1956 Summer Olympics
– Melbourne 2000 Summer Olympics
2000 Summer Olympics
– Sydney

Summer Olympic Games Olympic Games International Olympic Committee List of IOC
country codes


^ "Ioc Vote History". Aldaver.com. Retrieved 2012-08-24.  ^ "Past Olympic host city election results". GamesBids. Archived from the original on 17 March 2011. Retrieved 17 March 2011.  ^ Wendy Lewis, Simon Balderstone and John Bowan (2006). Events That Shaped Australia. New Holland. pp. 212–217. ISBN 978-1-74110-492-9.  ^ a b Duguid, Sarah (9 June 2012). "The Olympians: Olga Fikotová, Czechoslovakia". Financial Times Magazine.  ^ Pat McCormick. sports-reference.com ^ Text of John Ian Wing's letter, page found 28 June 2011. ^ Turpin, Adrian (8 August 2004). "Olympics Special: The Lost Olympians (Page 1)". Find Articles, originally The Independent on Sunday. Archived from the original on 13 April 2008. Retrieved 6 April 2008.  ^ IOC
site for the 1956 Olympic Games ^ 1956 Games (see All Facts section) olympic.org

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to 1956 Summer Olympics.

" Melbourne
- Stockholm
1956". Olympic.org. International Olympic Committee.  "Results and Medalists". Olympic.org. International Olympic Committee. 

Preceded by Helsinki Summer Olympic Games Melbourne/Stockholm XVI Olympiad (1956) Succeeded by Rome

v t e

Olympic Games

Ceremonies Charter Participating nations

Summer Olympics Winter Olympics

Host cities

Bids Venues


NOCs Country codes


Medal tables Medalists Ties Diploma

Scandals and controversies

Colonialism Doping

Sports Symbols

Torch relays Pierre de Coubertin medal

Women Deaths


Olympic video games

Summer Games

1896 Athens 1900 Paris 1904 St. Louis 1908 London 1912 Stockholm 1916 Berlin 1920 Antwerp 1924 Paris 1928 Amsterdam 1932 Los Angeles 1936 Berlin 1940 Tokyo 1944 London 1948 London 1952 Helsinki 1956 Melbourne 1960 Rome 1964 Tokyo 1968 Mexico
City 1972 Munich 1976 Montreal 1980 Moscow 1984 Los Angeles 1988 Seoul 1992 Barcelona 1996 Atlanta 2000 Sydney 2004 Athens 2008 Beijing 2012 London 2016 Rio de Janeiro 2020 Tokyo 2024 Paris 2028 Los Angeles 2032 TBD

Winter Games

1924 Chamonix 1928 St. Moritz 1932 Lake Placid 1936 Garmisch-Partenkirchen 1940 Sapporo 1944 Cortina d'Ampezzo 1948 St. Moritz 1952 Oslo 1956 Cortina d'Ampezzo 1960 Squaw Valley 1964 Innsbruck 1968 Grenoble 1972 Sapporo 1976 Innsbruck 1980 Lake Placid 1984 Sarajevo 1988 Calgary 1992 Albertville 1994 Lillehammer 1998 Nagano 2002 Salt Lake City 2006 Turin 2010 Vancouver 2014 Sochi 2018 Pyeongchang 2022 Beijing 2026 TBD 2030 TBD

Ancient Olympic Games Intercalated Games


Paralympic Games Youth Olympic Games

v t e

Nations at the 1956 Summer Olympics
1956 Summer Olympics
in Melbourne, Australia
and Stockholm, Sweden


(Egypt)* Ethiopia Kenya Liberia Nigeria South Africa Uganda


Argentina Bahamas Bermuda Brazil British Guiana Canada Chile Colombia Cuba Jamaica Mexico Peru Puerto Rico Trinidad United States Uruguay Venezuela


Afghanistan Burma (Cambodia)* Ceylon Republic of China Hong Kong India Indonesia Iran Israel Japan South Korea Malaya North Borneo Pakistan Philippines Singapore Thailand Vietnam


Austria Belgium Bulgaria Czechoslovakia Denmark Finland France Germany Great Britain Greece Hungary Iceland Ireland Italy Luxembourg (Netherlands)* Norway Poland Portugal Romania Soviet Union (Spain)* Sweden (Switzerland)* Turkey Yugoslavia


Australia Fiji New Zealand

(*)(competed at the Equestrian games in Stockholm

v t e

Events at the 1956 Summer Olympics
1956 Summer Olympics

Athletics Association football Australian football (demonstration) Baseball (demonstration) Basketball Boxing Canoeing Cycling Diving Equestrian Fencing Field hockey Gymnastics Modern pentathlon Rowing Sailing Shooting Swimming Water polo Weightlifting Wrestling

v t e

Venues of the 1956 Summer Olympics


Broadmeadows Hockey Field Lake Wendouree Melbourne
Cricket Ground Oaklands Hunt Club Olympic Park Stadium Port Phillip Royal Australian Air Force, Laverton Air Base Royal Exhibition Building St Kilda Town Hall Swimming/Diving Stadium Velodrome West Melbourne
Stadium Williamstown


Lill-Jansskogen Olympic Stadium Ulriksdal

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 147892209 LCCN: n92087241 GND: 2144865-6

Olympics portal 1950s portal Australia