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LuigiVercotti

An Alternate History Of The Olympics: 1952-1956

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1952: Detroit

The first Olympics in the US since the 1928 LA Games were awarded to the capital city of the American automotive industry after some shameless patronage by then IOC Vice President Avery Brundage at the 1947 Stockholm IOC congress. The existing IOC President at that time, Swede Sigrid Edström was unable to curtail some of the more egregious vote buying misdemeanours committed by the Detroit bid team with Brundage's tacit approval. Amongst the breaches of protocol was the use of direct payments to IOC members for college tuition for their children at various Grosse Point schools, which were corrupted by several instances where the children didn't even exist. In 1951 after news was broken of such unethical behaviour by young Swiss IOC member Marc Holder the bid team from Amsterdam threatened to take the issues to the League of Nations World Court in the Hague, however Edström agreed to appear before the US Congress Oversight Committee for the Detroit Games whereupon he agreed with Senator Joe McCarthy that the IOC needed financial and political reform. Brundage was reprimanded and forced to hand over his VP position to fellow USOC official and star of the 1940 games, Jesse Owens.

As for the games themselves they were opened in spectacular fashion by US President Thomas Dewey. The American anthem was performed by 13 year old school boy Marvin Gaye, and the opening ceremony saw the first full team from the Menshivik Socialist Republic of Russia attend the summer Olympics. The star of the games in terms of track and field was Austro-Hungarian runner Emil Zatopek, who won 3 gold medals including the men's marathon. British runner Roger Bannister achieved the unthinkable, breaking the 4 minute mile barrier in training for the games, then going on to pip Luxembourg's Josey Barthels for gold in the 1500 metres. Australian sprinter Marjorie Jackson won three gold medals including being part of the world record setting 4x100m relay team, and Al Oerter won his first gold medal for discus, surprising many who thought the 16 year old American was too young. Overshadowing the other European countries in sports such as shooting, canoeing and gymnastics, Austria-Hungary won 22 gold medals, a solid second behind the US. Menshivik Russia came third, with its best efforts in traditional Russian sports of swimming, equestrian and sailing. Detroit had been a solid host, and whilst its successful bid may have been rewarded with some unethical behaviour, even the fiercest of critics said that the organising committee overseen by Edsel Ford was efficient and smooth running (much like the automobile named after him).

1956: Buenos Aires

The first Olympics in the southern hemisphere were won by the Argentine capital in the closest bid race in Olympic history in 1949, after the Australian city of Melbourne came within 1 vote of winning. However with the nascent power of the emerging new media of television impacting upon the IOC, special consideration was given to the BA bid due to its harmony with US prime time broadcasting. Additionally, the charismatic Madame President of Argentina, Eva Peron embarked upon a personal 'charm offensive' with her husband (the noted socialist and peace activist) Juan Peron with the IOC, including personally delivering 200 kilograms of prime Argentine beef to the IOC dinner in Rome at the 1949 congress dinner.

Opened by Evita (as she was known to the Argentine people) the Buenos Aires games became known as 'juegos amistosos' (friendly games). Athletes, official and overseas visitors were welcomed into the homes of BA residents, whilst the IOC members where all given lessons in that most Argentine of dances, the tango, by Evita herself.

Sporting-wise the stand outs in terms of gold medallists were Australian Marjorie Jackson (beating her compatriot Betty Cuthbert to another 2 gold medals), Menshivik Russian paratrooper Vladimir Kuts with 2 golds in the 5000 metres and 10000 metres, Austro-Hungarian boxer Laslo Papp and his team mate from athletics Emil Zatopek who repeated his marathon gold from Detroit, and emigre ex-Russian gymnast Borys Shakhlin who won 3 gold for his adoptive country of Argentina.

Unfortunately two boycotts soured the BA games experience. Switzerland, France, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg boycotted due to the presence of an Egyptian team at the Olympics, representing the same country which had attacked the Englsh channel ports with suicide bombers in early 1956. Meanwhile Thailand, Laos, Cochin China and Bangladesh boycotted due to the violent suppression of a socialist revolt in Hong Kong by the Chinese Nationalist government led by Chiang Kai-Sek. Additionally Argentina's strict quarantine policies meant that equestrian events were held in Oslo, Norway.

With the closing of the games by outgoing IOC president Sigrid Edström the Olympics finished their first southern hemisphere games, and it was to be 32 years before they'd return.

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With the closing of the games by outgoing IOC president Sigrid Edström the Olympics made finished their first southern hemisphere games, and it was to be 32 years before they'd return.

'88 eh? I think I can see where this is going!

:D

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And where's Melbourne 1996? You alter history a little, and then the whole Olympics goes out of whack. No Rome for 1960 maybe? Melbourne might have hosted that edition after their failed 1956 bid, with Rome coming in close last. Perhaps Melbourne doesn't make another bid until the 1970's or bids after consecutive failed bids during the 60's?

Could we have expected an ultra modern MCG upgraded for the event? Or a new athletics stadium? Or perhaps use of Waverley Park in it's supposed 157,000 capacity (which would have been upgraded for the games, perhaps even installing that monochrome matrix screen well before 1982)? Which of course would have made it the largest Olympic Stadium ever.

Maybe after such strings of failed Melbourne bids, Sydney might have gotten a stab at it? Perhaps Perth for the 1970's after a successful 1962 British Empire Games?

Would Australia have gotten the games sooner or later?

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And where's Melbourne 1996? You alter history a little, and then the whole Olympics goes out of whack. No Rome for 1960 maybe? Melbourne might have hosted that edition after their failed 1956 bid, with Rome coming in close last. Perhaps Melbourne doesn't make another bid until the 1970's or bids after consecutive failed bids during the 60's?

Could we have expected an ultra modern MCG upgraded for the event? Or a new athletics stadium? Or perhaps use of Waverley Park in it's supposed 157,000 capacity (which would have been upgraded for the games, perhaps even installing that monochrome matrix screen well before 1982)? Which of course would have made it the largest Olympic Stadium ever.

Maybe after such strings of failed Melbourne bids, Sydney might have gotten a stab at it? Perhaps Perth for the 1970's after a successful 1962 British Empire Games?

Would Australia have gotten the games sooner or later?

There's more to come, don't worry bout that. And as you can see from previous threads on this subject its very easy to throw Olympic history out the window if a few 'what ifs' are applied (take 1904 & 1908 as prime examples).

And yes, there will be an Australian games...just where and when you'll have to wait and see ;)

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Oh, look, Detroit! You've made it! In an alternate history, but still, you've made it! :P

Seriously, this is incredibly interesting :)

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