Another quiet day at the Vatican and another day without a press office bulletin but, as I wrote yesterday, that’s not unusual in August. My favorite story of the day follows!
60 YEARS AGO TODAY – SUMMER OLYMPICS OPEN IN ROME
I found this fascinating 7-minute video on the wantedinrome.com website as it marked the 60th anniversary today of the opening of the summer Olympics games in Rome in 1960. It is in both English and Italian but you can understand most just by the images. The film starts on August 24 when the organizers and over 5,000 athletes gathered in St. Peter’s Square to be blessed by Pope John XXIII. You hear the pontiff’s words and see an amazing pomp and splendor in the square.
Later that evening, at 9 pm, the Olympic flame was brought to Capitoline Hill where remained until the following afternoon, August 25, when it was brought to the stadium for the opening ceremony. You’ll see parts of the opening ceremony procession into the stadium by athletes and learn that both East Germany and West Germany participated under one flag, that of the Olympic Games.
(wantedinrome) – Rome held 1960 Olympic Games at Stadio Olimpico and at ancient sites around the city.
The 1960 Olympic Games kicked off in Rome on this day, 25 August, 60 years ago, lasting until 11 September.
There were 83 nations involved in the games, with 5,338 participating athletes (4,727 men, 611 women) and 150 events in 17 sports (23 disciplines).
The opening and closing ceremonies took place in the newly-renovated Stadio Olimpico, which also hosted athletics and equestrian sports, while the football finals were held in the brand new (but now dilapidated) Stadio Flaminio.
However the city also made good use of its majestic sites, with gymnastics taking place at the Baths of Caracalla, wrestling at the Basilica of Maxentius, and rowing and canoeing held at Lake Albano in Castel Gandolfo.
Highlights of the Rome games included Abebe Bikila of Ethiopia winning the marathon barefoot to become the first black African Olympic champion; Cassius Clay (later known as Muhammad Ali), winning boxing’s light-heavyweight gold medal, and Wilma Rudolph, a former polio patient, winning three gold medals in sprint events on the track to be acclaimed as “the fastest woman in the world”.
The Soviet Union dominated the games, winning a total of 103 medals, followed by the US which won 71 medals and the United Team of Germany (East and West) with 42.
1960 was the last time that South Africa participated in the Olympics under its apartheid regime, which saw it banned until 1992, while Singapore competed for the first time under its own flag after the British granted it self-government a year earlier.
***** I found another video – 2 hours, 20 minutes – and was riveted as I fast forwarded through it, stopping at some interesting moments about track and field, swimming and diving, yachting, water polo and, of course the marathon, run through the historic streets of Rome and ending near the Colosseum at the Arch of Constantine.
I have watched as much as I could of every Olympic Game ever played since they were first televised, especially when they were in time zones in which I lived. I attended part of the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin in person and did radio reports and a blog for EWTN! I felt sad for organizers and athletes that the Summer Olympics could not take place this year in Japan as planned.
I was riveted by the competition and also by the commentary that was sometimes hilarious in this video of The Great Olympics. It is fascinating to see how far technology has come in several sports and how far fashion has come as well! Especially for referees and judges who did their work then in full suits and often wearing hats. Commentary is in both English and Italian. If you have a bit of time to go back a bit in history, I think you’ll be riveted by certain moments.