History of the Olympic Games


Site: Helsinki, Finland
Dates: July 19 - August 3
Nations: 69
Total Athletes: 4,925
Sports: 17

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The Finns also did not retreat from controversy by naming national hero Paavo Nurmi, banned by the IOC for outdated amateur regulations in 1932, to be the final torchbearer in the opening ceremony.

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