London 1948
The Official Report of the 1948 Olympiad

The 1948 Olympics were held in London in the immediate postwar era - they became known as 'the Austerity Olympics'.

The 1948 Olympic Games were the first to be held after the Berlin games of 1936. The two scheduled games in 1940 (Tokyo) and 1944 (London) were cancelled following the outbreak of the Second World War. After the war, the Olympic Committee decided to offer the Olympics to London for a second time.

The 1948 games, or XIV Olympiad, were a relatively low key affair for participants and spectators. The main athletics events were held in Wembley Stadium, where a temporary running track had been laid. No Olympic village was built and the foreign athletes were accommodated in old wartime barracks and schools, while the London-based British athletes lived at home. Food was still subject to ration restrictions.

Despite these conditions, 4,104 athletes from 59 nations took part - 390 women and 3,714 men. Germany and Japan were excluded from the games and the Soviet Union decided to abstain. The games began on 29 July 1948 with King George VI presiding over the opening ceremony in the presence of more than 80,000 spectators. There were 21 events for men and 8 for women.

The London Games were the first to be shown on home television, although very few people in Great Britain actually owned sets.

The week before the Games started the South London Advertiser carried the news that the overseas allocation of tickets had not been taken up and tickets were still available. Prices ranged from 3s 6d (17.5p) to one guinea (£1.05).

The opening ceremony

Rationing was not imposed on the overseas competitors and after the Games unused foodstuffs were distributed across London. Lewisham Borough News reported that "About three tons of the foodstuffs left behind by the visiting Olympic teams has been allocated to Lewisham Group Hospital Management Committee by the Olympic Games Committee. The foodstuffs, which include tea, sugar, meat and tinned fruits, will be shared among the four hospitals under the Committee's control".

YouTube video - American highlights of the 1948 Games posted by Historic Films Stock Footage

The Official Report of the 1948 Olympiad can be read on the web.

Useful links

You can find out more about the 1948 Games at these sites

Exploring 20th century London - the 1948 Games
The IOC site on the 1948 Summer Games
BBC 1948 London Olympics Gallery
Winning Endeavours: for images relating to London’s Olympic past – the 1908 and 1948 Games

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