Major change to the Olympic Closing Ceremony in 1956:

 Study 1         Study 2        Study 3          Study 4
Around 1920, a new law was inserted into the Olympic Charter. This was to prevent anyone person from adding or 
altering an Olympic ceremony.  Any changes to be made to an Olympic ceremony would require many meeting, where any proposal would be discussed, debated and voted upon before it reaches the Executive Committee of the IOC.  The Executive Committee would then go through the same procedure before coming to a final decision. 

During the 1956 Olympic Games, a student from Swinburne Junior Technical College in Melbourne Australia, wanted to hold a Peace March during the closing ceremony.  Since the beginning of the Ancient Games in 776 BC, athletes had never marched in the Closing Ceremony of the Olympic Games.  The president of the IOC Avery Brundage agreed to the boy's request and so for the first time in Olympic history, athletes marched in the Closing Ceremony.  Under the boy's instructions, all the athletes of the world came together and united and intermingled and entered the Stadium as One Olympic Nation.

The student was not a competitor nor had any connection with the Olympic Movement and the IOC,  but he 
made one of the biggest contribution to the Movement.  How was this possible?

Most significant moment in the history of the Games?

There are many different moments which are significant in Olympic Games history but there are a few historic 
decisions that I would highlight.  In 1956, a boy of Chinese origin by the name of John Ian Wing, who lived in Chinatown in Melbourne, proposed to the Organising Committee for the 1956 Melbourne Games to change the structure of the Closing Ceremony.  Instead of having the competitors parade into the stadium as nations, like during the Opening Ceremony, he proposed to have them walk into the stadium as one Olympic family, symbolising the solidarity of the athletes, without looking at race, colour or creed. This symbolic change in Olympic protocol has since been adopted and, in my opinion, forms a most significant moment in Olympic Games history.                                         

ANTHONY BIJKERK has been a member of the International Society of Olympic Historians (ISOH), and from 1996 
onwards served as its Secretary General; and from 1996 to 2002 also as Editor of the Journal of Olympic History.   

                                                                  The original letter of John Ian Wing is kept at the 
                                                                                        National Library of Australia, in Canberra Australia..                                       
Lord Coe Chairman of the London Organizing Committee for the 2012 Olympic Games, giving a speech in Melbourne in March 2006, on the important role the media can play in inspiring young people to take up sport                 

One of the extraordinary human contributions of Melbourne to Olympic tradition and values was that for the 
first time at the Closing Ceremony the athletes entered the stadium, not in teams behind national flags, but all 
together like one enormous family.  The inspiration for this parade came from a Melbourne schoolboy, John Ian Wing, who wrote initially and anonymously to the organizers, outlining his idea, complete with illustrations.  His letter says:  'They must not march, but walk freely and wave to the public...War, politics and nationality will be all forgotten, what more could anybody want, if the whole world could be made as one nation.'   I find it fascinating that, at the height of the White Australia policy, the Melbourne organizers accepted this proposal, on the basis of a letter written in longhand, which began,  'I am a Chinese boy, and have just turned 17'.  Sport can build bridges and tease out a generosity of spirit like a few other human activities and probably nowhere more so than in Australia and my own country.

                                                                                                                    Credit: Sun Herald Melbourne
Closing Ceremony 1956 Olympic Games
                                                                              First ever International Peace March


Statement by Mr Gan Teng Kiat, delegate to the 64th session of the United Nations General Assembly on Agenda
Item 49, Sport for Peace and Development: Building a Peaceful and better World through Sport and the Olympic 
Ideal.  19th October 2009.

In closing, allow me to relate a story to illustrate how youths can help or contribute to building a better and 
peaceful world through sport.  John Ian Wing was a 17 year old Chinese-Australian student living in Melbourne.  
He was immensely troubled during the 1956 Melbourne Games.  A near riot had broken out during the 
USSR-Hungary water polo competition, tainted by the Suez Crisis and the Soviet Union's invasion of Hungary.  
Wing sent an anonymous letter to the Melbourne Organizing Committee, suggesting that all athletes walk freely 
as one nation in the closing ceremony, contrary to the tradition of marching by nation.   To his surprise, his idea 
of  'One World, One Nation' was implemented.  Today, he is still lauded for his role in promoting peace and 
global unity.


A schoolboy makes Olympic history