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Helsinki 1952: Summer Olympics on the peak of the Cold War

From 19 July to three August 1952, the Finnish capital Helsinki hosted the fifteenth Summer Olympics, the primary video games of the trendy period. The world’s greatest sporting occasion after the Second World War passed off on the peak of the Cold War and marked the start of East-West rivalry.

The capital of Finland was chosen by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to host the 1940 Summer Olympics, changing these held in Tokyo. However, these Games had been cancelled due to the Second World War.

After the tip of the conflict, the IOC determined in 1946 to relaunch the trendy Olympic motion, beginning with the organisation of the 14th Summer Olympic Games in 1948 in London, England. In the aftermath of the conflict, Great Britain, like the remainder of Europe, was exsanguinated and in a interval of austerity.

In 1948, London was rebuilt as the best of Olympic Games (OG). The infrastructure, competitors venues and athletes’ villages had been primary.

In all, greater than 4,000 athletes from 59 delegations took half in 136 occasions in 17 sports activities. Like the nations that had provoked the world conflict, Japan and Germany, the defeated nations, weren’t invited, whereas the Soviet Union was invited however boycotted.

Helsinki 1952 Olympics: Games of two blocks

Four years later, 4,955 athletes representing 69 nations and areas took half within the Helsinki 1952 Olympic Games.

In addition to the return of Japan and Germany, 13 nations and territories took half for the primary time, together with the USSR, Israel, a newly created state recognised by the United Nations in 1948, and Vietnam, a rustic within the midst of political confusion.

In the spirit that the Olympic sporting occasion ought to be an awesome celebration of humanity in a time of peace, Finland, the host nation, wished to ask as many delegations as attainable.

So the Russian delegation, below the banner of the USSR, returned to the Games after a 40-year absence. Since the Bolshevik revolution of October 1917, the USSR had thought-about the Olympic Games to be a bourgeois and capitalist apply, which led to its withdrawal from the occasion.

In 1952, the Cold War started and the world was divided into two blocs, the Western bloc behind the United States and its allies, and the Eastern bloc behind the Soviet Union and its satellite tv for pc nations.

Launching themselves right into a horrible arms race, each West and East sought to exhibit their supremacy in extraordinarily numerous fields: scientific, cultural, navy, house and sporting.

In an interview with RFI, Thierry Terret, a historian of sport and the Olympic motion, stated: “The political stakes werre immense.”

As a consequence, the stadiums at Helsinki 1952 grew to become a showcase for the facility of the 2 worlds. And on the peak of the Cold War, the 2 blocs had been capable of examine themselves by way of the medium of champions, this time to the benefit of the Americans, stated Terret.

Apart from the purely sporting competitions, the East-West polarisation additionally posed new challenges for organisers, not least the issue of offering Olympic villages for the athletes. “This innovation from the 1924 Paris Games was intended as a sort of symbol of peace and, in any case, of unity between athletes of all origins,” Terret defined.

“In 1952, the USSR rejected this symbol and demanded that its athletes be given a separate village.”

This was to be the premises of the long run Helsinki University of Technology. Delegations from 5 satellite tv for pc nations accompanied the Soviets and a banner representing Stalin was erected there instead of the Olympic flag.

“We were definitely in the middle of the Cold War,” added Terret.

Vietnam’s first video games

While the 1952 Helsinki Olympics passed off in opposition to a backdrop of main geopolitical confrontation, Vietnam’s first Olympic participation additionally mirrored a really turbulent political scenario within the nation.

The finish of the Second World War and the give up of Japan, which had occupied French Indochina since 1940, enabled Việt Minh, a nationalist entrance led by Ho Chi Minh’s Communist Party, to proclaim independence on 2 September 1945, thus creating the Democratic Republic of Vietnam.

However, the return of the French to Vietnam led to the Second Indochinese War. At the tip of 1946, Ho Chi Minh’s authorities withdrew to Viet Bac, a mountainous area in North Vietnam, to battle the French till whole victory within the battle of Dien Bien Phu in 1954.

In the South, till 1954, the French accepted the creation of a State of Vietnam inside the French Union.

It was in opposition to this backdrop that the State of Vietnam despatched its first sports activities delegation to the Helsinki Olympic Games in 1952.

In November 1951, the Vietnam National Olympic Committee was created and shortly recognised by the IOC.

For the primary time, the yellow flag with three crimson stripes of the State of Vietnam was hoisted alongside the flags of 68 different nations on the Helsinki 1952 Olympic Games.

The eight athletes from the Vietnamese delegation took half in seven competitions in 5 sports activities: athletics, boxing, epee, swimming within the 100m and 400m freestyle occasions and biking.

They got here to compete within the Olympic enviornment with nationwide satisfaction.

At the next Olympic Games, in 1956 in Melbourne, Australia, 1960 in Rome, 1964 in Tokyo, 1968 in Mexico and 1972 in Munich, an rising variety of Vietnamese athletes took half below the flag of the Republic of (South) Vietnam.

During this era, the communist authorities in North Vietnam was not allowed to participate in sporting actions inside the Olympic motion.

Five years after the nation’s reunification, in 1980, the IOC formally recognised the Vietnam National Olympic Committee as a member of the World Olympic Movement, and Vietnamese athletes had been entitled to participate within the Olympic Games and different sporting occasions within the area.

The reintegration of Vietnamese sport into worldwide competitions started with the nation’s participation within the 1980 Moscow Olympics within the former Soviet Union, an Olympics that was as soon as once more fraught with political points.

Originally printed on RFI