Site: Helsinki, Finland
Dates: July 19 - August 3
Total Athletes: 4,925
Two things stood out during the XVth Olympiad, hosted by Finland. It would be
the first-ever appearance by the Soviet Union, a presence that would be felt
for many years thereafter. Second, the Finns displayed a remarkable amount of
hospitality to visiting diplomats, guests and athletes.
Eric von Frenkell, mayor of Helsinki, became the head of the organizing
committee and tried to downsize the number of events in the Olympics. He found
out quickly that most Olympic committees were looking for ways to bolster the
number of sports for their programs. Being under the arm of the Soviet Union,
Finland pressured the IOC for approving admission of the USSR to the Games.
The Finns also did not retreat from controversy by naming national hero Paavo
Nurmi, banned by the IOC for outdated amateur regulations in 1932, to be the
final torchbearer in the opening ceremony.