The 1920 Olympic Games were awarded to Antwerp to honour the suffering that had been inflicted on the Belgian people during World War I. These were the first Games at which only National Olympic Committees could enroll participants.
The second Olympic Games to be held in Paris were much more successful than the first. The number of participating National Olympic Committees jumped from 29 in 1920 to 44. There were more than 1000 journalists in attendance as well as 625,000 spectators, signalling the arrival of the Olympic Games as a major event with widespread appeal.
The 1928 Olympic Games marked the first appearance of the Olympic flame. The main stadium design included a tower topped with a large stone bowl in which a symbolic fire burned for the duration of the Games. Seen for miles around, it indicated where the Games were being held.
Because the 1932 Olympic Games were held in the middle of the Great Depression and in the relatively remote city of Los Angeles given the modes of transportation at the time, the number of athletes participating was the lowest since 1904. Nevertheless, the level of competition was extremely high and 18 world records were either broken or equalled.
One of the lasting legacies from Berlin 1936 is the Olympic torch relay, created to link the modern Games to the Ancient Games. The Games were documented in the first noteworthy official Olympic film, Olympia, by Leni Riefenstahl. These were also the first Games to be broadcast on television, with 25 viewing rooms set up in the greater Berlin area to allow locals to follow the action.
London had been selected to host the 1944 Olympic Games before they were cancelled due to World War II. So after the hostilities ended in 1945, Lord Burghley, chairman of the British Olympic Council, went to the IOC to discuss the possibility of London being the site for the resumption of the Games in 1948. That allotment became official in March 1946, giving organizers just two years to prepare.
In 1938 Helsinki had been appointed to host the 1940 Olympic Games after Tokyo relinquished the duties because of its war with China. But by the end of April 1940 it was apparent that the entire world was affected by the war and the decision was made to cancel the Games. All of that planning provided a firm foundation for the 1952 Olympic Games, which ended up so well-organized that some observers suggested the Games be held permanently in Scandinavia.
Melbourne won the rights for the 1956 Olympic Games over Buenos Aires by one vote, leading to the city becoming the first in the southern hemisphere and the first in Oceania to host the Olympic Games. To take advantage of the early part of the Australian summer, the Games were held in late November and early December, the latest in a calendar year in Olympic history.