It has been said that this Olympics is a great rivalry of the U.S. and Russia. Now, as the Games begin, any man can survey the panorama of competition between great performers from many countries and decide for
himself that the Games are something more than any two countries can make—or unmake. Anyone still obsessed with the idea that these Games should be, must be, a duel of Russia and the U.S. should put blinders on, ignore the general scene and concentrate on the hammer throw. There in the hammer circle is a corking battle of Americans and Russians who have been trading the world record across the Curtain for almost half a year. Cliff Blair of the U.S. took the record away from Mikhail Krivonosov of Russia. Krivonosov took it back. Hal Connolly beat Krivonosov, Krivonosov beat Connolly, and Connolly beat Krivonosov. Quite a rivalry, but Cliff Blair shrugs it off: "In the hammer, sooner or later, everybody beats everybody."
At 4:32 p.m., Nov. 22, the last torch-bearer, a veteran with considerable feeling for the joy of running, will carry the flame into the stadium. He has a world-famous name, but, unlike the names of Anthony Mark, Peter Ma-hardy, Finlay McNab and all 3,000 runners who have advanced the torch, his by tradition must be kept secret until the moment arrives. The Duke of Edinburgh will say, "I declare open the Olympic Games of 1956, celebrating the 16th Olympiad of the modern era." Five thousand pigeons—not doves of peace, but pigeons—will flutter into the sky.
Meanwhile at the practice circle, the old discus thrower Adolfo Consolini wipes the sweat out of the creases in his forehead, dries his hands and makes the last of 40 practice throws. He has a chance against Gordien of the U.S. and Grigalka of Russia, to compensate for something he feels he missed 16 years ago. But already this time something is missing. Consolini will not have the chance to beat the European record holder, Karel Merta. Record holder Merta was caught deliberately using a lighter discus in competition, and was dropped from the lists. This insistence that a man cannot tamper with the common denominator but wins by improving himself makes the Olympic stadium a unique meeting place. Olympians have come 12,000 miles because of common values, not differences, and this perhaps explains why, during these Games, there can be a moratorium at least in the minds of men.