Friday, July 13, 2012

1956 Melbourne Summer Olympic Opening Ceremony

The Games of the XVI Olympiad
Melbourne, Australia
The Olympic Cauldron at the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne
Olympic Ceremony Records
italics indicate records at the time
  • First Olympic Games in Oceania
  • First Olympic Games in the Southern Hemisphere
  • First Time Three Olympic Games Contested in the Same Year (Winter, Equestrian, Summer)
  • First Marching Band in Formation
  • Most Nations Participating (72) - previous Helsinki 1952 (69)
Olympic Torch Relay Records
italics indicate records at the time
  • First to Use Two Different Torch Designs (the final torch was unique to the other torches)
  • Longest Torch Relay - 17,412km (previous Helsinki 1952 4,735km)

Opening Ceremony
Melbourne Cricket Ground (104,000)
November 22, 1956


Opening Ceremony Highlights
Following the Winter Olympics of 1956 and the Equestrian Games of 1956, the Summer Olympics in Melbourne would mark the third Olympic Games contested within the same year.  This is the only time this has occurred.  These ceremonies were likely influenced by the Stockholm ceremony early in the summer in that a 20-minute music display was added to the ceremony.  Still at this time, the Parade of Nations was seen as the premiere event of the ceremony, and much attention was given to keep the athletes from switching step.  Nevertheless, these ceremonies, like Stockholm 1956, would make an artistic display of the Olympic Rings.  For this, the marching band performed several numbers and in the Olympic Report it states that the moment that received the greatest applause was when the band formed the Olympic Rings in performance.  This may seem like a small event, but the Report also semi-apologizes because they added an element to the ceremony that was not agreed to by the IOC.  Nevertheless, Stockholm in 1912 and 1956 jump-started these artistic elements into the Olympic Ceremony. 

  • Display of Marching Bands
  • Duke of Edinburgh arrives in car
  • National Anthem performed
  • 220 member band of the Australian Army performs (making Olympic rings)
  • Parade of Nations (band plays marches)
  • Games declared open by the Duke of Edinburgh
  • Olympic Fanfare by Hicks performed, Olympic Flag raised, 5,000 pigeons released, 21 gun salute
  • Olympic Flame enters the stadium and the Olympic Cauldron is lit by Ron Clarke (19 year-old prominent long distance runner, future Bronze medalist in the 1964 Olympics in 10,000 meter race)
  • Olympic Hymn is performed by 1,200 person chorus and band
  • Prayer
  • Hallelujah Chorus performed by choir and band
  • Olympic Oath
  • National Anthem performed by band and choir
Gold Medal from the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne

Olympic Torch version 1 - used as the primary torch for the relay

Olympic Torch from 1956 - used to light the Olympic Cauldron

Official Poster of the 1956 Melbourne Olympics

The Melbourne Cricket Grounds during the Parade of Nations at the Olympic Opening Ceremony

1 comment:

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