|Competition type||Olympic Games|
|Number and Year||XVII / 1960|
|Host city||Roma, Italy (Venues)|
|Opening ceremony||25 August|
|Closing ceremony||11 September|
|Competition dates||25 August – 11 September|
|OCOG||Comitato organizzatore dei Giochi della XVII Olimpiade|
|Participants||5347 from 84 countries|
|Medal events||150 in 22 disciplines|
Roma was awarded the 1908 Olympics but eventually turned them down after Mt. Vesuvius erupted and the Italian government claimed it needed money to rebuild the cities affected by that disaster. Fifty-two years later the Olympics would return to the eternal city. Never before, and possibly never again, were the ancient and modern worlds so intertwined at an Olympics. The 1960 Olympics were a wonder. In an Olympic world that was becoming more and more involved in political problems, the Roma Olympics were almost entirely devoid of controversy and politics.
Many of the sporting events took place in settings thousands of years old. Wrestling was held in the Basilica di Maxentius, where similar competitions had taken place two millennia previously. Gymnastics events were contested in the Terme di Caracalla. For modern facilities the Italians provided Stadio Olimpico, a beautiful track & field complex, the Sports Palace for boxing, and the cycling velodrome.
The only minor controversy concerned the athletes from Chinese Taipei. The nation wished to compete as the Republic of China, but the IOC and the organizing committee insisted that they compete using the name “Taiwan/Formosa”.
A number of heroes emerged from the Games, but perhaps the biggest story was the relative collapse of the American track & field dynasty. The US won only nine gold medals in men’s athletics, compared to 15 in Melbourne. Heavy favorites such as Ray Norton in the sprints and John Thomas in the high jump performed poorly and did not win. In probably the biggest upsets, the US failed to win the 100 metres, 200 metres, and 4×100 metre relay for the only time in Olympic history to that date.
In women’s athletics however, the Italians and the world thrilled to the feats of Wilma Rudolph, an American sprinter from Tennessee. Long-legged and attractive, she was dubbed by the European press as “La Gazelle Noir” – the Black Gazelle. She won the women’s 100 metres, 200 metres and anchored the winning sprint relay.
In basketball and boxing, two of the greatest practitioners of those sports ever were on display. In basketball, the US men’s team won very easily as their team was led by Oscar Robertson, Jerry West, Jerry Lucas, Walt Bellamy, and Terry Dischinger. Possibly the greatest amateur team ever, it rivals many of the great NBA teams. In boxing, the light-heavyweight gold medal was won by Cassius Clay, who as Muhammad Ali would thrill the world for the next two decades as “The Greatest”.
One of the most beautiful sights of the 1960 Olympics merged the Ancient World and the Modern Olympics, and the old and emerging world orders. The marathon was the first Olympic marathon to start and finish outside the main Olympic stadium (followed in 2012 by London), beginning on Capitoline Hill, and finishing along the Appian Way, underneath the Arch of Constantine. Previously always the province of white runners, often Finnish, the race came down to two African runners, Abebe Bikila of Ethiopia and Rhadi Ben Abdesselam of Morocco. The race finished beautifully at night, the Appian Way lit by torchlights, as Bikila, running barefoot, pulled away to win. He was the first black African to win a gold medal, and he did it in the city which 30 years prior had sent troops to conquer his Ethiopian homeland. His victory was but a precursor to the great black African runners who would win many gold medals at the Olympics in the years to come.
The 1960 Olympics were the first ones televised in the United States, although all events were shown on tape delay after the film was flown from Roma to New York. And also for the first time since the 1912 marathon, the Olympics saw the death of a competitor. In the cycling road race, Knud Enemark Jensen (DEN) collapsed and later died. He was suspected of having taken amphetamines, though this remains controversial and has never been proven, but his death was partially responsible for the institution of drug testing in the mid-60s.
With the boycotts, massacres and political problems that were to come, many Olympic aficionados would later yearn for the glory that was Ancient Greece and the grandeur that was Modern Roma.
Bid voting at the 51st IOC Session in Paris on 16 June 1955.
|Round 1||Round 2||Round 3|
|Detroit, Michigan||United States||6||11||–|
|Ciudad de México||Mexico||6||–||–|
|Officially opened by||Giovanni Gronchi||ITA||President|
|Torchbearer||Giancarlo Peris||ITA||Lit flame|
|Taker of the Athlete's Oath||Adolfo Consolini||ITA||ATH|
|Olympic Flag Bearer||Eight unknown athletes|
|Small group of unknown sailors|
|Artistic Gymnastics||Equestrian Dressage||Sailing|
|Cycling Track||Modern Pentathlon|
|Islamic Republic of Iran||IRI||0||1||3||4|
|United Arab Republic||UAR||0||1||1||2|
|West Indies Federation||WIF||0||0||2||2|
|Boris Shakhlin|| URS
|Larisa Latynina|| URS
|Chris von Saltza||USA||3||1||0||4|
|Polina Astakhova|| URS
|Antonina Seredina|| RUS
|Viktor Zhdanovich|| RUS
|Margarita Nikolayeva|| URS
|Ingrid Gulbin-Engel-Krämer|| GDR
|Armin Hary|| GER