Never Forget, Melbourne Hosted The Olympics And It Was As Iconic As Sydney
1956 was known as the "Friendly Games".
These are scenes from Melbourne in November 1956.
Sure, it's hard to forget the epic event that Sydney staged during the 2000 Olympics, but that wasn't the first time Australia had hosted the games.
In 1956, Melbourne brought together a world still reeling from World War II and struggling from one international crisis to another. Just a month before the games began, the Hungarian revolution and the Suez Canal crisis had happened.
The political tension was evident as the world converged on Melbourne, but the city held up its end of the bargain to champion sportsmanship in true Olympic spirit. Here are some iconic moments from the 1956 Olympics:
1. Melbourne hosted the first Olympics in the southern hemisphere.
Since then, the games have been held south of the equator only twice: Sydney in 2000, and Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
2. This meant big adjustments in the dates.
3. "But there's no Olympic Park in Melbourne, so where was it held?" ... You might ask.
The centerpiece of the Melbourne Olympics and the venue for the opening and closing ceremonies is what you now know as the Melbourne Cricket Ground (the MCG, or The G). The structure wasn't purposefully built for the Olympics, though. It existed prior to 1956, the old grandstand was simply replaced and extended to accommodate the Olympic crowd.
4. The Olympic venues are no longer home to the sports they hosted during the Melbourne Olympics.
The lake where the rowing events were held dried out after a drought.
5. World War II was just a decade prior, and superpowers of the world were transfixed by the Cold War.
Just a month before the Melbourne Olympics started, Hungary staged a revolt against the powerful Soviet regime. Hungarian athletes still decided to participate at the games, even if this meant going head to head with the Soviet Union.
6. True enough, there was "blood in the water". Literally.
7. Some Hungarians decided not to go home.
8. East and West Germany unified as one team.
9. Boycotts. Boycotts everywhere.
10. It wasn't all politics though. Below you can see the former mayor of the Gold Coast, who was once an Olympian and was selected to be the torch bearer for the Melbourne Games.
11. This French dude chilling after he won gold for the men's marathon.
12. Melbourne missed out on hosting any equestrian events, thanks to the super strict Australian quarantine laws.
13. Australia has always excelled in swimming, and the Melbourne Olympics proved that to the world.
14. Of course, world records were broken. One of which was by Australia's Dawn Fraser in the pool.
15. Here's what the medals looked like ...
Back in the day, medals weren't draped over an athlete. In the case of Melbourne, the face featured the traditional Trionfo design by Giuseppe Cassioli, a design that was used from 1928 until 1988. The medals were presented in a velvet box.