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.
More than half a century after giving up the hosting duties for the 1908 Olympic Games following the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, Rome made the most of its ancient history as many sporting events for the 1960 Olympic Games took place in settings thousands of years old.
In hosting the first Olympic Games to be held in an Asian country, Japan was eager to show the world that it had recovered from the atrocities of World War II. One of the ways in which Japanese organizers expressed their successful reconstruction was in the selection of Yoshinori Sakai as the final torchbearer. Born in Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, the day the atomic bomb destroyed the city, he represented both an homage to the victims of that day and a call for world peace.
Mexico City was a somewhat controversial selection as an Olympic host city because of its high altitude – 2300m above sea level. The rarefied air had both positive and negative impacts. Canada’s star of the Games was swimmer Elaine “Mighty Mouse” Tanner, who won three medals.
The 1972 Olympic Games were the largest yet, setting records for the number of events, participating NOCs and competing athletes. For the first 11 days, the Games were one of the most beautiful demonstrations ever of Olympism. But in the early morning of September 5, eight operatives from the terrorist group Black September broke into the Olympic Village and made their way to the Israeli team’s quarters. Eleven Israeli athletes and coaches were taken hostage.
Playing host to the Olympic Games for the first time, Canada won more medals than at the previous two Olympic Games combined. Without a gold medal on the table, however, one of biggest highlights and lasting images of the Games was Greg Joy winning high jump silver in the rain on the penultimate day. It was one of just three medals Canada won outside of the swimming pool.
The first Olympic Games to be held in a socialist country are more often remembered for the largest boycott in Olympic history, which made the 80 countries that did attend the lowest number since 1956. Canada was one of an estimated 45-50 nations that chose not to compete, despite many Canadian Olympic Team members having already been selected who are still considered Olympians.
Following the American-led boycott of the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow, it wasn’t too surprising when the Soviet Union organized a boycott of these Games. Nevertheless, a record 140 countries competed, including the People’s Republic of China for the first time since 1952. Canada fielded its largest ever Olympic team, 273 men and 163 women, second in size only to the United States. The Canadian team won an unprecedented 44 medals, led by the swimmers who captured 10.