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An Alternate History Of The Olympics: The Forties

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1940: Helsinki

The 1940 games had originally been awarded to Tokyo, during the presidency of Dr Lewald from Germany in 1933. However at the Cairo IOC Congress of 1938 the successor to the late Baron Pierre de Coubertin, Belgium's Henri de Baillet-Latour was required by an IOC membership at the 1938 Cairo congress to break the host city contract with the Japanese capital. This was due to renewed threats of boycotts from major Olympic nations including England, the US, the German Weimar Republic, Canada, Australia and France, as each of these nations and many others were fired by anti-Japanese sentiment resulting from the Imperial Japanese Army's invasion of China in 1936, and the resultant 'Rape of Shanghai'. With the IOC fractured and the entire movement under threat since the 1936 Berlin/Barcelona debacle, as well as the death in 1937 of founding IOC President Pierre de Coubertin, Baillet-Latour agreed that Helsinki would be the most appropriate host city.

The resultant games would prove to be a resounding success, even though only 6 months before the games the Menshivik Socialists in Russia waged a brief 6 day war against the Finns. A longer war was avoided when the west rallied immediately to the cause of the 1940 Olympic hosts, and the Menshiviks backed down, withdrawing their Vermilion Army.

Stars of the 1940 games included Jesse Owens, who won three gold medals and one silver for the US team, who was beaten into second place in the long jump. Giving some advice to German entrant Luz Long to take a step less on his take off this act of Olympic spirit lead to Long winning gold. Women's track was dominated by Dutch runner Fanny Blankers-Coen, whilst in the pool young Australian female swimmer Margaret Whitlam cleaned up with 3 gold, 1 silver and 1 bronze. The opening ceremony also saw a first, when perennial Olympic bridesmaid Paavo Nurmi ran into the stadium with the very first Olympic torch. Based on an idea from German stunt woman and dancer Leni Riefenstahl, the torch relay began at the ancestral home of the modern Olympics, Paris. Dignitaries from around the world appeared at the torch's ignition from the use of solar rays on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées .

The only major controversy of the games occurred when USOC chief Avery Brundage kicked two black athletes off the US 4x100 metres relay team, replacing them with Sam Stoller and Marty Glickstein. Whilst the team won gold (brought home by a powerful display from Owens) the rejected athletes complained they were victims of Brundage's racist agenda. A self-avowed Zionist Brundage never apologised for his actions.


1944: Lausanne

The Swiss hosted their first summer games (having previously seen two Winter Olympics, in 1928 and in 1936 at St Moritz and Sion respectively), and put on a games which ran as efficiently as the famous Swiss clocks. The Pacific War of 1941-1943 had threatened to cast a pall over the games however the combination of a surprise US Navy attack on the Japanese Navy's base at Kobe (sinking all the fleet's aircraft carriers) as well as the use of the first atomic bomb in war (dropped on 1940 potential host city Tokyo) brought the conflict to a swift conclusion. The IOC (working with the League of Nations) had helped Japanese athletes back into the Olympic fold, so that by the Lausanne games a small by accomplished delegation could attend.

Local hero for the Swiss was dual gold medallist Frederic Rogerer, who told out the men's singles tennis and then combined with Inge Martinis to win the mixed doubles. Recently liberated South Korea took its first gold medal when Sohn Kee-chung took out the marathon, whilst the young Princess Elizabeth from England won bronze in equestrian (the first royal to win an Olympic medal). Bob matthias won the first of his 3 decathlon gold medals, whilst Australian sprint queen Shirley Strickland dethroned Fanny Blankers-Coen, winning a total of 2 gold, 1 silver and a bronze.

1948: London

Held at a time of international crisis (the Greek and Chinese Civil Wars were raging whilst on the Korean peninsula Menshivik Russian forces were blockading the South Korean capital Seoul, forcing a major airlift from Leage of Nations forces), the games of the XIIIth Olympiad could have been overshadowed by these events. However the British (buoyed by the reunification of the United Kingdom under King George VI) hosted a spectacular games. Ignoring reconstruction costs that would have seen the games mostly held in old venues from the 1932 Olympics, the British built an entirely new stadium for athletics at a purpose built Olympic Park in East London. Paris, Madrid, Leipzig and Havana had all placed bids for the games however the IOC recognised that in the spirit of reunification London was the perfect host (which did lead to some rather bitter recriminations form the French). Stars of the games included the Austro-Hungarian runner Emil Zatopek, Arthur Wint (400 metres/800 metres dual gold medallist) from the Federated States of the Caribbean and Mahmoud Fayad (gold medal winner in weight lifting) from the Pharonic Republic of Egypt.

In a moving closing ceremony a parade of athletes was held for the first time, thanks to a letter sent into the organising committee from a young Glasgow boy from the Gorbals, Billy Connolly. He suggested that the world's athletes should enter the stadium holding arms and singing Robert Burns' 'Auld Lang Syne', and from this bud of an idea came the spectacular scene of over 3000 athletes coming together as the London 1948 games came to an end.

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You been peeking SR? lol

And there goes the Rio map strategy! :P

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