Melbourne, but the Olympic Movement could not escape the jaws of politics. The Olympics suffered its first ever boycott when a number of countries refused to attend as a political protest. Some countries were segregated at the Olympic Village and also there was a near riot during a WaterPolo match. The Olympic Movement was being torn apart.
1956 was a very tense period of time. There was the Suez Crisis, Russia had invaded Hungary and there was the conflict between China and Formosa (Taiwan). Was this the beginning of WW3 people were asking; just over a decade earlier, WW2 shook the foundation of the human race. Man had still not learnt his lesson.
When I heard about the riot at the swimming pool, I knew I had to do something. With only four days left to the closing ceremony, I remembered an old saying; ‘The pen is mightier than the sword’. I also remembered back in 1952, how I wanted to change the format of the Olympic Closing Ceremony. Now was my chance. At the time, I was living above my father's restaurant at 16 Bourke Street Melbourne, which was two doors away from St James picture theatre. It was now about 11.00pm. A few hours earlier, looking down into the street, I watched people lining up in an orderly manner waiting to go into the theatre. Now I watched them come out in one big masses, spilling out onto the road and stopping the traffic.
They were smiling and laughing and even talking to strangers as if they had known each other before. Then the ‘idea’ came to me. As I was writing my letter to the chairman of the Organising Committee, I suggested that all the athletes of the world should come together for the closing ceremony, to unite and intermingle and enter the Stadium as One Nation.
To change the rules of the Olympic Charter was a lengthy process, which could take months if not years to get approval. I had four days to change the rules. I had to write a powerful letter which would convince the IOC to allow my ‘peace march’ to take place. It was well after midnight when I finished my letter and the office for the Organising Committee wasn’t very far away, so I ran down to the office and put it through the door. The office was closed for the night. The day before the Closing Ceremony, the president of the IOC AveryBrundage agreed to my request and changed the rules of the Games
On the final day of the Games, I had no idea that the IOC President had given his approval and there was nothing in the morning papers, to suggest there were to be any changes to the ceremony. I was a little disappointed and so I went to the movies. When I came out of the cinema, I noticed a crowd of people standing in front of a shop window, and went to have a look. They were watching the closing ceremony on a television set and I noticed on the screen that the athletes were marching; not as separate countries but were intermingled and marching as one. I thought to myself; I wonder if that was my idea. As there were no Sunday papers in those days, I had to wait until Monday morning and there was my story and letter on the front of every newspaper.
The dots were in colour crayon to represent the different nations