The Melbourne Olympics
Melbourne hosted the 1956 Olympic Games. Depicted here is John Wing about to mail his letter to the Melbourne Olympic organisers. Wing's letter requested that all athletes march together to demonstrate the need for peace and international unity through sport.
Increasing world tension and the unity in sport
The 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games were staged during a time of increasing world tension. The People's Republic of China withdrew from the Melbourne Olympics but the Taiwanese sent a delegation. The Hungarian Revolution against Russian domination had been crushed by the invasion of Russian and other Warsaw Pact forces on 14 November. Egypt declared the nationalisation of the Suez Canal in defiance of Great Britain and its allies.
In reaction to these events a 17-year-old apprentice carpenter from Melbourne, John Ian Wing, brought about a change in Olympic Games proceedings. He wrote to the Games organisers suggesting that during the closing ceremony, the athletes should walk, not in their national teams, but as a massed group, to show their common humanity and unity in sport. This idea was accepted by the organisers. To the surprise of the spectators and commentators at the closing ceremony, the 500 athletes walked around the track mingled together. John Wing was honoured at the opening of the Australian Institute of Sport in 1986.