1956  Melbourne Summer Olympics

1956 Summer Olympics - Olympic Memorabilia (Melbourne)


Winner Medals

winmed1956 300 1 winmed1956 300 2
1st Place: Gold Medal Material: Gilt Silver
    Weight 69 gr
2nd Place: Silver Medal Material: Silver
    Weight 70 gr
3rd Place: Bronze Medal Material: Bronze
    Weight 64 gr
Diameter: 51 mm Design by: Prof. Guiseppe Cassioli,
Florence, Italy
* 22.10.1865  + 05.10.1942
    Mint: K.G. Luke
Thickness: 4 mm Ribbon: None
Obverse: Viktory with wreath seated above stadium.
Reverse: Winner carried by jubilant athletes.
Numbers of Medals: Gold:     280                 Silver:   280                    Bronze:   290
 Prize Medals 1956

The design for the prize medals which was adopted by the International Olympic Committee for the Amsterdam Games in 1928 and struck for each subsequent Games, was again agreed upon. The original design was modelled by Professor Cassiole of Florence, Italy. The only alteration was to change the appropriate wording to " XVIth Olympiad Melbourne 1956".

Winners of individual events and members of winning teams were awarded silver-gilt medals ; second and third in each category were awarded silver and bronze medals respectively.
The rule as to the award of prize medals reads, inter alia-
" . . . In team events only members of the first, second and third teams who have participated in the final or 3rd-4th match respectively shall be awarded the silver-gilt medals, silver medals and bronze medals and diplomas. Those who have represented the first, second and third teams but have not participated in the final or 3rd-4th match are entitled to receive a diploma. No competitor shall receive more than one medal for the same performance in a combined individual and team competition."

It was the intention of the I.O.C. that this rule should apply to Melbourne, but as it had not been enforced for the equestrian events at Stockholm, which formed an integral part of the Games of the XVI Olympiad, it was therefore decided that the old rule whereby athletes were entitled to more than one medal for the same performance should also apply at Melbourne.

This rule, however, merits careful study with a view to clearer expression for future organizers since it contains ambiguities ; in boxing, for instance, the losing semi-finalists in each weight category do not fight off for third place and are judged to be equal third. There are, moreover, different views as to what constitutes a reserve. Only by defining in the rule those sports which are entitled to claim additional medals, will the anomalies be rectified. It should also be defined which are the team events. Are eights, fours and pairs, for example, in rowing to be classified as team events ? Similarly, why are pairs in canoeing classified as team events and the tandem event in cycling as an individual event ?

In gymnastics team events, more competitors than the scoring number of five are allowed to compete in a team. Should those which follow the scoring five in a team be awarded medals or should they be treated as reserves ?

The I.O.C. new Rule 41 which lays down that medals must bear the name of the sport concerned, was brought into operation in June, 1956. As the prize medals had already been manufactured by this time, the President of the I.O.C. agreed that this section of the rule should be waived for the Melbourne Games.

Prize medals were ordered and distributed as follows : silver-gilt ordered, 280, distributed, 273 ; silver ordered, 280, distributed, 273 ; bronze ordered, 290, distributed, 281. Additional bronze medals were required because the I.O.C. ruled that both of the losing semi-finalists in each weight category of boxing should receive bronze medals rather than fight a deciding bout.

Prize medals were presented in velvet-lined cases. The cases were cream with a label in blue for first, in red for second and in green for third.

(Source document:  Official Report 1956 Melbourne,  page 99)

Participation Medal

1956 olympic participation medal Melbourne 1 1956 olympic participation medal Melbourne 2
Material: Bronze Weight: 105 gr
Diameter: 63 mm Design by: Andor Meszaros
Thickness: 4 mm Mint: K.G. Luke
Obverse: Olympic motto within circle of athletes marching in pairs.
Reverse: Olympic rings over Melbourne coat of arms within legend.
participation medal olympic games 1956 melbourne
Presentation box
Commemorative Medals 1956

Mr. Andor Meszaros of Melbourne, by birth a Hungarian but now a naturalized Australian, submitted the design which was accepted for both obverse and reverse of the commemorative medal. The obverse depicts in relief a design of athletes marching in pairs following a single figure bearing a banner with the Olympic device of rings and the motto of the International Olympic Committee Citius, Altius, Fortius. The reverse is a reproduction in relief of the Coat-of-Arms of the City of Melbourne surmounted by the five rings and bearing the inscription " Olympic Games Melbourne 1956 ".

The medal is in bronze, 5/32 inch in thickness with a diameter of 2½ inches. As most of the recipients of badges were entitled also to commemorative medals, the numbers were related. Badges and commemorative medals, moreover, were distributed jointly and on the same basis ; 12,250 were struck in bronze and were issued in plastic cases. A summary of details relating to the number ordered and issued is at the end of this report.

(Source document:  Official Report 1956, page 104)


diploma olympic games 1956 melbourne
Size: 58 x 44 cm
Design by: unknown
Printed by: unknown
Signed by: IOC President A. Brundage and
Organising Committee President and Chairman
Copies: 4.000

  Diploma 1956 Melbourne


The final choice of a design for the diploma incorporated the Coat-of-Arms of the City of Melbourne with its motto Vires Acquirit Eundo*, from an engraved die. Imposed over the Coat-of-Arms was the Olympic motto, then the words " Diploma Olympic Games Melbourne 1956," and below these were three lines left for details of place, event and name to be completed.

Beneath the main design were the signatures of Mr. Avery Brundage, the Right Honourable R. G. Menzies, and the Honourable W. S. Kent Hughes, with two branches of wattle surrounding the whole. The Olympic rings were in the top centre, printed in silver and embossed. The inks used were non-greasy moisture set in four shades of grey with black, and blue-black for signatures. The over-all size of the diploma was 23 inches wide by 17½ inches deep, and printed by letterpress on pure white arctic ivory paper. Four thousand were ordered. The original intention was to handwrite the details on each diploma, but due to the numbers involved a faster method was sought and a leading typewriter company produced a machine with specially large type (3/16 of an inch) which was found to be satisfactory and had the advantage of speed and economy.

Diplomas were issued in accordance with Rule 41 of the I.O.C. which provides for them to be given to :
(1)  First to sixth individual place-getters, and members of teams placed one to six.
(2)  Non-competitors officially attached to teams, but only up to a percentage as laid
       down in Rule 36.
(3)  International Federation officials if certified by their Federations.

The completion of the diplomas proved a much longer and more difficult task than anticipated and brought to light a number of interesting points, among them :-

(1)  The difficulty of agreement on translation and spelling of names
(2)  The incomplete records kept particularly of team events
(3)  Some International Federations taking their records back to their headquarters,
       which involved considerable correspondence to settle even minor points
(4)  Each team which had exceeded its Rule 36 quota of officials had to be asked to
       nominate those to be given diplomas. This took several months
(5)  Similarly each International Federation had to be asked to confirm the names of
       officiating members. This also took considerable time to complete

Both the latter points should have been settled before teams and Federations left Melbourne. Diplomas were individually packed in cardboard tubes and sent in bundles of approximately 20 to each National Olympic Committee. Unfortunately some were lost in transit and others damaged ; all were replaced. In the light of experience a smaller diploma would probably have travelled more safely and in better condition.

( Source document:   Official Report 1956,  page 101)


Badges 1956

The symbol of the Organizing Committee was used for the badges, which were 2" x 1¼" in size. Coloured ribbon, appropriately stamped, denoting the category of the wearer or his sport was attached to each badge.

Once again the principle was adopted of using the badges for souvenir and identification purposes only and not to admit the wearer to any venue.

It was also decided that where a recipient, because of the positions he held, was entitled to more than one badge, he would be given the badge and ribbon corresponding to the highest Olympic position held.

Numbers were estimated by referring to previous celebrations of the Olympic Games and by correlating these figures with the numbers expected to attend in Melbourne. In addition, every Australian sporting governing body provided a list of its officials and appropriate numbers were ordered.

Four types of badges were provided instead of three as at previous Games, because it was felt that the competitors should be grouped separately and given a distinctive badge. The following types of badges, therefore, were issued :—
(a)  Gilt with white enamelled border and with               For guests of honour and high
enamelled rings, torch and Australia                              officials
(b)   Silver oxidized with blue enamelled border            For sports and team officials
and with enamelled rings, torch and
(c)   Silver oxidized with maroon enamelled                  For competitors only
border and with enamelled rings, torch
and Australia
(d)   Bronze with dark green enamelled border             For press, photographers, 
and with enamelled rings, torch and                               broadcasters, and television
Australia                                                                            and filming operators.
The number of badges ordered and issued are listed at the end of this report.

1956 olympic games badge melbourne

Method of Distribution
The following method of distribution of badges and commemorative medals was
adopted :—
International Olympic Committee.
Sent to each member individually at his hotel

Sports Officials.
(a) International : By the respective International Federation upon
submission of a list of personnel involved
(b) Australian : By the secretary of the Australian governing body

Presidents, secretaries, and members of National Olympic Committees, team officials
and competitors.
Badges and commemorative medals for these groups were handed to representatives of each national team after receipt of the nominal roll containing names and categories of the complete delegation

By the Press Department of the Organizing Committee. The press were not entitled to commemorative medals

By the Organizing Committee at a meeting of attaches three weeks before the commencement of the Games

Other groups.
By the Technical Department

Plastic Badges.
In addition to the enamelled badges ordered, it was decided to provide plastic badges to distinguish lesser officials and interpreters. Thus 1,350 badges labelled "Official" and 500  with the designation "Interpreter" were provided. Recipients of plastic badges were not entitled to commemorative medals.

(Source document:   Official Report 1956, page 102)

List of all Official Badges 1956 Melbourne:
Arena manager
Chef de Mission
Civic, Committee
Guest, Honour
Housing, Director
Housing, Member
IF President, Athletics
IF President, Basketball
IF President, Boxing
IF President, Canoeing
IF President, Cycling
IF President, Fencing
IF President, Football
IF President, Gymnastics
IF President, Hockey
IF President, Modern Petathlon
IF President,Rowing
IF President, Shooting
IF President, Swimming
IF President, Weightlifting
IF President, Wrestling
IF President, Yachting
IF Secretary, Athletics
IF Secretary, Basketball
IF Secretary, Boxing
IF Secretary, Canoeing
IF Secretary, Cycling
IF Secretary, Fencing
IF Secretary, Football
IF Secretary, Gymnastics
IF Secretary, Hockey
IF Secretary, Modern Pentathlon
IF Secretary, Rowing
IF Secretary, Shooting
IF Secretary, Swimming 
IF Secretary, Weightlifting
IF Secretary, Wrestling
IF Secretary, Yachting
IOC, Chancellor
IOC, President
IOC, Vice President
Medicine, Medical
NOC, Member
NOC, President
NOC, Secretary
Official, Athletics
Official, Basketball
Official, Boxing
Official, Canoeing
Official, Cycling
Official, Demonstration
Official, Fencing
Official, Football
Official, Gymnastics
Official, Hockey
Official, Modern Penthathlon
Official, Rowing
Official, Shooting
Official, Swimming
Official, Weightlifting
Official, Wrestling
Official, Yachting
Organizing Committee, Adm. Dir.
Organizing Committee, Chairman
Organizing Committee, Director
Organizing Committee, Executive
Organizing Committee, Member
Organizing Committee, President
Organizing Committee, Secretary
Organizing Committee, Sub - Com.
Participant, Athletics
Participant, Basketball
Participant, Boxing
Participant, Canoeing
Participant, Cycling
Participant, Demontration
Participant, Fencing
Participant, Football
Participant, Gymnastics
Participant, Hockey
Participant, Modern Petathlon
Participant, Rowing
Participant, Shooting
Participant, Swimming
Participant, Weightlifting
Participant, Wrestling
Participant, Yachting
Press, Director
Team, Official


1956 olympic games poster
 Official Poster 1956

On the advice of the Fine Arts Sub-Committee, the Organizing Committee commissioned five artists to submit designs and in June, 1954, the Organizing Committee accepted the selection recommended by the Fine Arts Sub-Committee.

It was the work of Mr. Richard Beck, an English industrial designer who had settled in Melbourne. A departure from the illustrative or symbolic designs previously favoured for the Olympic Games, it was a simple clean-cut design showing a white 3-leaf invitation card half-folded and standing out from a bright blue background. It carried a reproduction in color of the Coat of Arms of the City of Melbourne on the rear fold and the 5-ring Olympic symbol on the front. The poster was printed in two standard sizes-40 inches x 25 inches and 20 inches x 12½ inches. Seventy thousand copies were printed-35,000 of each size.

Design by: Richard Beck
Size: 32 x 50 cm (small)
Copies small: 35.000
Size: 63,5 x 100 cm (large)
Copies large: 35.000

Supplies of posters were sent to shipping companies, airlines, travel and tourist organizations, banks, sporting bodies and National Olympic Committees. Every Australian overseas office acted as a distribution point. The Australian National Travel Association alone, under reciprocal poster agreements, sent 15,000 posters abroad for display on overseas railway hoardings. Through the Australian News and Information Bureau in New York, arrangements were made for thousands of posters to be displayed in retail stores.

Under arrangements negotiated by the Press Department, the official poster was displayed in Australia by all airlines, by travel agencies, by the railways in every State, and in every post office in Australia. Sporting clubs, retail stores and small shops also showed it. Circulars were sent to every town clerk or municipal clerk in the Australian States with samples of the posters, seeking their co-operation in arranging for the poster to be displayed in their towns. Excellent results followed.

(Source document:  Official report 1956 Melbourne, page 142)

John Wing

 A schoolboy saved the Olympic Games


The 1956 Olympic Games was staged in Melbourne Australia during the height of the Cold War.  Throughout the world there was global tension and political unrest because of the Suez Crisis, the invasion of Hungary by Russia , tension between East and West Germany and between main- land China and Taiwan .

A number of countries boycotted the 1956 Games as a protest, whilst others wouldn’t allow their athletes to mix with other athletes in the Village.  The final straw came for the organizers, when Russian and Hungarian players fought each other during the water polo match.  The police had to separate the players and the match was cancelled because there was so much blood in the pool.

The IOC and the Organizing Committee had by now given up all hope of saving the Games from ending in failure.  That was, until they received an anonymous hand written letter from a 17 year old Chinese student.  The boy had an ‘idea’ that turned the Games into a success and the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games became officially known as the Friendly Games.


President Samaranch invites John Ian Wing to the IOC`s Headquarters in Lausanne in 1992

The boy was later identified as John Ian Wing and this is his story:

When I was about 14 years old I wanted to take up some sport at school but I wasn’t that keen on doing football or cricket, so I went to the library and took out a book on the Olympic Games.  Now I could study all the different sports and find one which I would like to do.  I eventually decided to do the sprints.  Reading through the book I was awe struck by the sheer spectacle of the Opening Ceremony and to see athletes from all around the world in their smart uniform marching into the stadium behind their national flag.  They must have felt so proud.  But I thought it was strange that the athletes were not allowed to take part in the closing ceremony.  The final day of any sporting event is where you celebrate all the victories, and say goodbye to all the new friends you have made, but not the Olympic Games.  This was due to the protocol of the Olympic Charter.

In 1956, the Olympic Games came to my home town of Melbourne Australia .  All Australians were so proud to be able to host the Games and to show the world the true Australian hospitality.  As the Opening Day drew closer, there was a bit of disappointment because of all the conflicts around the globe and some countries decided to boycott the Games.  Even though the Australians made all the visitors welcome, they would invite strangers to their homes for dinner to show them what Australian life was like, but there was still that tension in the air.  Athletes from some countries were instructed by their governments not to mix with other athletes in the Olympic Village.  Officials of the IOC and the Organizing Committee were aware of the problem, and were concerned that the Olympic Movement was being torn apart.  The worst was yet to come, when a near riot broke out during the final of the Water Polo between Russia and Hungary .  The police were called in to calm the violate situation and the game had to be stopped because there was so much blood in the water.  For the IOC and the Organizing Committee, the closing ceremony could not come quick enough for them.

I was observing all what was going on and it saddened me to see politicians were using the Olympics for their political gains and the athletes were a ‘pawn’ in their game.  It was pointless to scream and shout at politicians because it goes in one ear and out the other ear. But I remembered an old saying, “The pen is mightier than the sword”.  It was a Thursday evening; on the Saturday was the closing ceremony, so I didn’t have much time to come up with a solution and write my letter.  Then I remembered reading about the Olympic Games and the closing ceremony.  At first I thought of organizing a big party on the last day for all the athletes and spectators in the stadium.  I soon dropped that idea.  As the athletes march into the stadium as separate nations during the opening ceremony, why don’t we get them to join and intermingle and form one Olympic Nation and enter the stadium during the closing ceremony.  This way the politicians could not separate their athletes, as they will walk behind the Olympic flag.

I didn’t put my name or address to the letter in case someone thought it was a daft idea and then, I went to the office of the Organizing Committee, which was just down the road from where I lived and put it through the letter box.  On the Saturday morning I checked the newspapers to see if my idea had been adopted but there was nothing in the papers, being a little disappointed I went to the movies that day.  Coming out from the movies, I saw a group of people outside a shop window and they were watching the closing ceremony.  In those days, very few people owned a tv set.  I saw the athletes had all joined up to form one group and was walking casually, laughing and waving to the crowd in the stands.  I thought to myself, I wonder if that was my idea.  As there were no weekend papers, I had to wait until Monday morning to find out.  I got up early in the morning and bought all the newspapers and on the front page of every paper was my story and my letter.  On my way to school, I decided not to tell my school mates because they would not have believed me.  I also did not tell my parents because being Chinese, you should always seek your parents permission if you want to write to the authorities.

I decided to remain anonymous for I had done my job and saved the Games from ruin and helped to restore the integrity of the Olympic Movement.  I wrote a second letter to Wilfrid Kent Hughes whom I had written my first letter to, and gave him my name and address, but I asked to remain anonymous.

johns street
Johns street in Sydney

For the first time in the History of Mankind and Olympic History, men and women came from the four corners of the globe, regardless of their nationality, colour or religion, to join together and mingle freely, and to walk as One Nation.  And amidst all the global tension and political unrest of the 1950s, they walked together laughing, waving to the crowd, conveying a message of goodwill, peace and harmony to the world.  Some of the countries were at war with each other, but for that brief moment in time, war, politics and nationality were all forgotten.  That is the power of the Olympic Movement.

If you care to read my full story you can go to my website:


Source document: Official Report, Melbourne 1956, page 26:

A wave of emotion swept over the crowd, the Olympic Flame was engulfed in it and died;
the Olympic flag went out in tears, not cheers, and a great silence. This, more than any remembered
laurel of the Games, was something no-one had ever experienced before—not anywhere in the world,
not anywhere in time.

Clearly, as the crowds instinctively recognized, this finale had not been in the libretto. How
accurate was their intuition. It was as late as the Wednesday of the final week that the Chairman
received a letter, the writer of which identified himself as a Chinese boy "just turned seventeen ".
" Mr. Hughes ", he wrote, " I believe it has been suggested that a march should be put on
during the Closing Ceremony, and you said it couldn't be done. I think it can be done." The
march he had in mind, he said, was different from the one during the Opening Ceremony.
" During the march there will be only one Nation", he continued. " War, politics, and
nationality will be all forgotten. What more could anybody want, if the whole world could be
made as one Nation ? Well, you can do it in a small way. This is how I think . . . No
team is to keep together and there should be no more than two team-mates together. They must
be spread out evenly . . . I'm certain everybody, even yourself, would agree this would be a
great occasion . . . no-one would forget. The important thing in the Olympic Games is
not to win, but to take part."*


The happy scenes on Closing Day

The idea caught the imagination of the Hon. W. S. Kent Hughes but it was not until
lunch-time on Friday, the day before the Closing, that others who had to be consulted had
approved and the President of the International Olympic Committee endorsed the innovation.
Time was so short that a public announcement was deemed inadvisable and instructions were
issued to cancel the parade if the athletes who mustered proved fewer than 400.
The spectators were thus taken completely by surprise.

So much for the factors which highlighted the Olympic Games in Melbourne as an historic and heroic
* The writer of the letter was later identified as John Ian Wing, an Australian-born Chinese, a
carpenter's apprentice by trade.

Postage Stamps

2 special stamps were published.
First Day:    01. Dez.  1954 + 30. Nov. 1955
Engraver: ?
Designer: ?
Value Colour / Discription Stanley
Gibbons No
Scott No Michel No Edition
2 Sh brt. blue
Symbol Olympic Games
280  286  259 3.204.000
2 Sh bluish grn. 
Symbol Olympic Games
281  277  250 3.936.000

4 special stamps were published 1956
First Day: 31. Okt. 1956
Engraver: ?
Designer: ?
Value Colour / Discription Stanley
Gibbons No
Scott No Michel No Edition
 4 P carmine-red
Arms of Melbourne
290  288  266 119.209.880
7 1/2 P. deep bright blue
Olympic Torch and Symbol
291  289  267 4.602.000
1 Sh multicoloured
Collins Street, Melbourne
292  290  268 7.500.000
2 Sh multicoloured
Melbourne across R. Yarra
293  291  269 7.500.000

1956 21



 Tickets 1956

Tickets were sold for individual sessions when more than one session took place each day, except in the case of events held at the Main Stadium (Opening Ceremony, Athletics, Hockey Semi-finals and Final, Football Semi-finals and Final, and Closing Ceremony), and for Shooting at Williamstown and Laverton, and Rowing and Canoeing at Ballarat. In these cases admission was for the day.

Tickets were printed in fifteen two-colour combinations, based on four basic colour backgrounds and seven overprints. This provided one colour for each day of the Games. The emblem of the sport being held, together with name of stadium, seat number, date, price, and clock faces showing times of commencement were shown on the face of the ticket, whilst on the reverse side was shown a plan of the particular stadium indicating the position of the seat.

Design and printing provided a reasonable measure of security against forgery of the ticket. Printing of the tickets was carried out in the security section of the Victorian Government Printing Office. Printing commenced in January, 1955. Altogether, including bulk stock tickets for emergency purposes, 2,580,000 were printed and 1,341,483 were sold.

tick1956 21
1956 olympic games ticket

Ticket sales

Ticket sales overseas were not very extensive, approximately 110,000 only being sold. Of these about 56,000 went to New Zealand and the Pacific Islands, 22,000 to U.S.A. and Canada and 18,000 to the United Kingdom. Some 14,000 were spread over the rest of the world. Tickets in small groups were sold to people in some 60 overseas countries. Sales within Australia on the other hand were satisfactory. There were capacity attendances at the Main Stadium for the Opening Ceremony, Athletics, and the Closing Ceremony, also at Swimming, Gymnastics, Cycling, and Fencing. Sales for other sports were reasonable except in the cases of Canoeing, Shooting, and Modern Pentathlon, where they were poor. There was no enclosure for Yachting and no sale of tickets.

Arrangements were made during 1954 whereby the whole of the banks established in Australia, together with the internal and external airlines connected with Australian tourist trade, and the shipping company carrying passengers between Australia and New Zealand, made available their offices and staffs to provide booking agencies on an honorary basis. These agencies successfully carried through an important national work in arranging the sale of tickets overseas and in other States of the Commonwealth of Australia. Two important international tourist agencies also handled overseas ticket sales, but on a commission basis. Requisitions for tickets received through these agencies were finalized in the Organizing Committee's central booking office.

ticket1956 25
tick1956 1

The box office for over-the-counter sales in the City of Melbourne was established at the Myer Emporium, the largest store in Melbourne, where some 4,000 square feet of floor space was set aside to handle the early rush for tickets. Sub-agencies of Myers were opened in other Australian capital cities for over-the-counter sales also.

Bulk stocks of tickets were held partly in strongrooms at the Myer box office and partly in the strongrooms of the Australia and New Zealand Bank, the Committee's bankers. Because tickets were supplied only on requisition, covered by cash, or on over-the-counter sales, there was no difficulty, as in past Olympics, over the return at the last moment of large batches of unused tickets from overseas countries. Nor were there any bad debts arising from agency sales.

tick1956 royal
tick1956 23

The gross value of sales of tickets for the Games was £1,205,415 1s. 4d. In addition a small charge was made for entrance to training sessions, particularly of swimming, and receipts under this heading amounted to £26,558.

(Source document:  Official Report 1956,  page 114)

Numbers of visitors:   1.341.500


There are 98 Vignettes known
Some Examples:
1956 1
1956 2 1956 3 vig1956 278

Picture Postcards

Some Examples

pc1956 10 pc1956 1
pc1956 2 pc1956 5562 01
pc1956 5561 02 pc1956 5559 03

Identity Card

  Olympic identity cards

Olympic identity cards were mailed to National Olympic Committees six months prior to the Games to provide for issues to all members of the International Olympic Committee, International Federations and National Olympic Committees who proposed to come to the Games, and for competitors and officials sent to Melbourne by the various National Olympic Committees. Identity cards were also on issue to accredited pressmen, broadcasters and photographers.

In all 8,037 identity cards were sent to Secretaries of National Olympic Committees for use-280 green, 7,311 blue and 446 orange cards. The numbers were estimated at this end and in only a few instances was it necessary to send Secretaries extra supplies. As with previous Games, arrangements were made with the Government for these identity cards, subject to compliance with instructions that were issued with them, to be recognized as valid passports for entry into Australia. One proviso of the Immigration Department was that all cards be issued under the authorization of the National Olympic Committees. The Commonwealth Government dispensed with the payment of visa fees for visitors coming to Melbourne for the Games.

The card provided space for particulars and photograph of the holder, which had to be completed and certified by the National Olympic Committee of the country concerned and signed by the holder. Provision was made for the appropriate government authority in the holder's own country to certify the card as a valid passport permitting the person concerned to depart from his own country, travel to Melbourne and return to his country. The Olympic identity card was good for entry to Australia between 1st September and 8th December, 1956, and was valid until 31st January, 1957. This period could be extended on specific application.

In actual practice, very few overseas countries gave formal approval to the use of these identity cards as valid passports and practically all official visitors to the Games carried the normal passport of their country. The identity card, however, did facilitate travel generally. It had ancillary uses. For example, it was used as a free pass on government owned trams and trains in and around Melbourne. It was used as a pass by competitors and officials into the competitors' stand at the Main Stadium and into the particular stadium of the sport to which a competitor or official was attached. It was also used as an identity pass into the Village for those staying there.

identity 1956 1

The National Olympic Committees were authorized to issue Olympic identity cards to the following official representatives attending the Games :

(A) Green Cards-

1.  Members and staff of the International Olympic Committee
2.  Guests invited by the Organizing Committee
3.  Presidents of National Olympic Committees and International Sporting Federations
4.  Chefs de Mission
5.  Family members of persons mentioned above under 1-4

(B) Blue Cards-

1.  Representatives of National Olympic Committees
2.  Officials of International Sporting Federations
3.  Team leaders
4.  Competitors
5.  Referees and members of Juries approved by International Sporting Federations
6.  Officials approved by the National Olympic Committee
7.  Assistant staff of teams (coaches, physicians, technical assistants, masseurs, cooks and grooms)

(C)  Orange Cards-

1.  Press representatives
2.  Radio and Television reporters
3.  Photographers
4.  Motion-picture photographers

Other Identity Cards and Passes

A variety of other identity cards and passes was issued to facilitate entry to venues for official purposes, for traffic and in some instances merely to identify the individual. A card, somewhat similar to that on issue to overseas competitors, was issued to members of the Australian team and conferred the same rights. Special identity cards, stamped with the name of their sport, were issued to sports officials required to be in attendance at venues and training centres. Those required on the arena at any given time wore distinguishing armbands. A variety of passes, using a distinctive colour for each venue where strict control was necessary, was used for pressmen, broadcasters, photographers, postal officials, catering staff, messengers, ambulance men, official staff generally and others. These were printed to suit the particular circumstances of classes of individuals and of venues.

(Source document:  Official Report 1956,  page 108)



Real time web analytics, Heat map tracking

Olympic Games



All Events


You are here: Home Olympic Games Modern Olympic Games Summer Olympic Games 1956  Melbourne Summer Olympics 1956 Summer Olympics - Olympic Memorabilia (Melbourne)