London Great Britain, 1948

Legacy of the Games

The XIV Olympiad was the first to be held in 12 years; the 1940 and 1944 Games were both cancelled due to World War II. Many countries participated in the Games for the first time including Puerto Rico, Syria, Lebanon, Burma, Ceylon and Venezuela. In total a record 59 nations were represented, competing in 19 sporting disciplines.

Their roles as aggressors during World War II led to Germany and Japan not being invited to take part in the Games. Italy, although an Axis power for the first part of the war, was allowed to send athletes on account of its defection to the Allies in 1943 following the deposition of Benito Mussolini. The USSR was invited but chose not to send any athletes.

The event became known as the Austerity Games on account of the continuation of rationing in Great Britain, and to the post-war economic climate. No new venues were built for the Games; they were held largely at Wembley Stadium in West London, officially known as the Empire Stadium, which was built in 1923. The competitors were housed in existing accommodation instead of a purpose-built Olympic Village, with the male athletes staying at Royal Air Force camps and female athletes staying in London colleges. Athletes were given increased rations, the same as those received by dockers and miners, which allowed them 5,467 calories a day instead of the normal 2,600.

The pool within the Empire Stadium was used for the swimming events. It was the first ever covered Olympic pool, allowing 8000 spectators to view the events in comfort. So large was the pool that part of it had to be covered with a wooden platform to bring its size down to the regulation 50m.

These were the first Games held after the death of Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the International Olympic Committee, in 1937. They were also the last to feature an Art Competition, which took place at the Victoria and Albert Museum