Olympic Marathon: A Centennial History of the Games' Most Storied Race

By Charlie Lovett | Go to book overview

12
The Games of the XIV Olympiad: London, 1948

The 1940 Olympic Games had been awarded to Tokyo, but by 1938 the Japanese realized that they were much too busy with their war in China to be able to spare time, men, and money for the sponsorship of the Games, so they declined the honor. The IOC promptly awarded the Games to Helsinki, but by 1940 World War II was raging and all thoughts of Olympic Games were gone.

The 1944 Games had been scheduled for London, but they too disappeared into the shadows of war. As soon as the hostilities ended, however, the IOC met in London and voted to hold the 1948 Games in that city. Like Antwerp in 1920, London would serve as a symbol of the severity of the recent conflict and the peace that was represented by the Olympic Games would be especially poignant in the bombed out remnants of the British capital.

Even with three years to prepare, the British were not able to host the sort of no-expense-spared festivities they had in 1908. The White City Stadium had been destroyed by the bombs of the Luftwaffe. With money and resources in scarce supply, the British converted Wembley Stadium's soccer field into a track and field arena and transformed Royal Air Force barracks into an Olympic village. Though still restricted to severe rations in the light of post-war shortages, the British people turned out by the tens of thousands to watch the Games. Even on rainy days, Wembley Stadium was nearly filled to its capacity of eighty-two thousand. After a twelve-year hiatus for the Games--from which critics claimed they would never re

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