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The chancellor of the International Committee, Otto Mayer, begged for a moratorium so that the Hungarian team could get to the Games. Three of her Olympians were killed, but the rest of Hungary's team came out during a cease-fire.
In plain, dry, simple words the charter of the Olympics provides for amateur competition without discrimination against any country or person. Under the rules some sports are compulsory. There must be track, swimming, rowing, gymnastics, equestrian competition, cycling, weight lifting, yachting and—note this—all the combative sports: pentathlon, boxing, wrestling, fencing and shooting. Nine sports are optional, and five of these, soccer, water polo, hockey, canoeing, and basketball, are on the Melbourne agenda. The rules also state that Games must be held to celebrate each four-year Olympiad. Numerically, this is the 16th Olympiad, but only the 13th time men have gathered to celebrate. In 1916, 1940 and 1944 the world was so deep in war no one came to throw the discus, and the Olympics for those years stand in the records as the Games that might have been.
National rivalry is the bugbear of the Olympics. It disturbs the athletes little but gives the world fits at times. Gold, silver and bronze medals are awarded for first, second and third at the Games, and it is natural for anyone to want to know who wins what in each event in every sport. It is possible to add performances in gymnastics, the hop, step and jump and 1,000-meter canoeing in a single point score, but the grand total is meaningless, and the whole pursuit as futile as comparing the throwing arms of Otto Graham and Robin Roberts.
There are, without question, national rivalries in the Olympics. As the detailed reports farther along in this magazine show, there are rivalries of an almost chaotic variety—old rivalries, new rivalries, global, regional, personal rivalries. In many finals at Melbourne, again, the toughest fight will be teammate against teammate.
Among the coaches of the Olympic world, national identity dissolves into almost nothing. Coaches are forever aiding the enemy. Smiling broadly at trackside in Melbourne stands Joe Yancey, coach of the New York Pioneer Club. One of the Pioneers, Andy Stanfield, is defending Olympic champion in the 200-meter dash, but Yancey has come to Melbourne to coach a new, green squad of Jamaican runners who hope to take medals away from the U.S. as the great Jamaican veterans did at the 1948 and 1952 Games. The Austrian track genius Franz Stampfl has been coaching Australia's runners since August of last year and mailing out tape-recorded advice to running disciples, such as Chris Chataway, in Great Britain. The Italian water-polo coach, scheming to upset the favored Hungarians this year with their own style of play, is Band� Z�lyomi of Hungary. The American fencers will be coached by an old Hungarian saber-man, Lajos Csiszar.
Among the American fencers on the mats in Melbourne there is one who views the Games with unrivaled perspective. He is Dr. Norman Armitage, a fit, 49-year-old saberman whose mustache and face are more familiar in industry than in sport. He is a vice-president of the Deering-Milliken Corporation and the most durable symbol of the Olympics. He first competed as an Olympian at Amsterdam in 1928, had his best year in London in '48, winning 19 of 23 bouts and a bronze medal. Melbourne will be his sixth Olympic competition. Because he lives now in Pendleton, S.C., where no one fences, Armitage has prepared for the last two Games by running 10 miles a week and lunging against imaginary opponents in the parish of the Episcopal church. "There certainly always has been national rivalry in fencing," Dr. Armitage reports, "and it should be. We're all imbued with it. It's the same thing we get in colleges here. At all the Olympics I haven't made anything but friends; why, some old friends are coming back now as officials."
Sitting on the infield grass, L�szl� T�bori, the leather worker from Budapest, and Istv�n R�zsav�lgyi, the Hungarian army captain, ponder what sort of races there will be at 1,500 and 5,000 meters. What will the Russian 10,000-meter-man Kuts be worth in the shorter, faster 5,000? John Landy, the man intrigued by the tactics of running duels—what threat will Landy be now suddenly recovered from his tendon trouble? Chris Chat-away and that persistent bogey, Gordon Pirie—will they pull the British trick, let their rivals play donkey runner, then make a race of it in the last 300 meters?
As he jogs past, lanky Somnerg Srisombati, wearing the white elephant of Thailand on his jacket, has no such complicated worries. Srisombati has only a vague sense of tactics. He is a runner because he has been running and running over the monastery grounds back at Wat Kanchanaram. He ran 1,500 meters in four minutes 19 seconds, and Thailand felt that was good enough. The sailboat of Prince Bira-bongse Bhanubhand of Thailand does have a chance in the sailing competition on Port Phillip Bay, but Runner Srisombati's chance against the master milers is truly dim. Srisombati knows this, but he adds, "An upcountry boy like me serves to stimulate interest in international sport."
There has been political drumbeating at earlier Olympic Games, and tourist-minded citizens playing host sometimes have emphasized spectacle more than competition. As Iraq and The Netherlands withdrew, the Games ran the risk of becoming a court for the aggrieved, as if there was no longer room at United Nations for the differences of the world. The walls of the Olympic stadium were not intended either for political billboards or for the placards of the righteous.
Last April, an old discus thrower in the U.S. Senate—which has no Olympic authority—urged that America do everything possible to ban Russia from the Olympics. An American rowing coach warned a church group that a Russian Olympic victory would "endanger the peace of the world."