Thursday, July 12, 2012

1952 Helsinki Summer Olympic Opening Ceremony

The Games of the XV Olympiad
Helsinki, Finland
Opening Ceremony of the 1952 Helsinki Olympics - VERY RARE PHOTO! - both Olympic Flames visible (first in the center of the bend in the track, second at the top of the stadium tower)
Olympic Ceremony Records
italics indicate records at the time
  • First Lighting of Two Olympic Cauldrons
  • First Use of an Electric Scoreboard
  • Most Nations Participating (69) - previous London 1948 (59)
  • Most Athletes Participating (4,436) - previous London 1948 (4,104)
Olympic Torch Relay Records
italics indicate records at the time
  • First torch flown on an airplane
  • First torch carried on horseback
  • First double-relay (the Olympic Flame was lit by the rays of the sun in Olympia, Greece, while the organizers planned another relay beginning in the Arctic Circle with a flame lit by the rays of the Midnight Sun)
  • Longest Olympic Torch Relay - 4,735km (previous London 1948 - 3,160km)
  • Most Torchbearers - 3,374 (previous Berlin 1936 - 3,308)

Opening Ceremony
Helsinki Olympic Stadium (70,000)
July 19th, 1952


Opening Ceremony Highlights
Helsinki was granted the games of 1952 in part because of their great organization attempting to hold 1940 games after the cancelled 1940 Tokyo Olympics.  The Olympics were as healthy as ever in 1952, but the ceremony took no major artistic steps.  After the Second World War, London and Helsinki both held ultra simple ceremonies, contrasting heavily with the games of Berlin in 1936.  One special moment however from this rather simple ceremony would be the beginning of a new era in the cauldron lighting.  Paavo Nurmi, the most famous athlete in Finland, surprised the crowd and all of Finland by becoming the last torchbearer to enter the stadium.  The excitement of his super-stardom gave great significance to the event, and is largely credited to the development and importance of the cauldron lighting.  Helsinki also showed creativity by having two cauldrons, one on the stadium floor, and one overlooking the stadium.  They also held a torch relay beginning near the north pole, lit from the rays of the arctic midnight sun, only to combine with the flame from Olympia shortly before the games began.
  • Words of Coubertain used in every ceremony since 1932 were written on a large electronic board
  • President of Finland and dignitaries arrive
  • Parade of Nations
  • President declares the games open
  • Simultaneously: the Olympic Flag is raised, fanfare played, 21 gun salute, and 2,500 pigeons released
  • First Olympic Cauldron within the stadium is lit by Paavo Nurmi (the most famous Finnish athlete of all time: 9-time Olympic Gold Medalist, 12-time Olympic medalist)
  • Torch is taken up the stadium tower; choir and band perform the Olympic Hymn
  • Second Olympic Cauldron is lit at the top of the stadium tower by Hannes Kolemainen (4-time Olympic Gold Medalist, 5-time Olympic medalist
  • unplanned - German woman jumps onto the field and takes the stand, but is apprehended by the police (seen in video)
  • Olympic Oath
  • Finnish National Anthem performed
Gold Medal from the 1952 Helsinki Olympics
1952 Helsinki Olympic Torch
Official Poster of the 1952 Helsinki Olympics
Lighting of the first Olympic Cauldron on the stadium floor

The Second Cauldron was a beacon at the top of the stadium tower

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