A spirit of newness and the unusual sorrounded this opening day. Never before had the Games been staged in the southern hemisphere. Never before had an opening ceremony been held so late in the year, with most of the season virtually over for the top-tier athletes from Europe and America and Melbourne's shop windows already featuring Christmas decoration. Nevertheless, it was the Australian audience and their genuine love for sports that saved the opening day and the fortnight to come.
Queen Elizabeth had send her husband Prince Philipp, the Duke of Edinburgh, Down Under to officially declare open the Games. Before that, the parade of nations had seen the first Summer Olympics appearance of a unified team from East and West Germany. Roaring applause welcomed the team from civil war torn Hungary that had left Budapest at the height of the revolution. Many athletes were unsure about the fate of their loved ones back home when arriving at Melbourne, many were never going to go home again (picture: Getty).
Despite of the boycott by the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, Egypt, Iran, and the Lebanon, 69 nations entered, equalling the record set four years earlier at Helsinki. While young Australian running hopeful Ron Clarke was almost burnt when he lit the Olympic cauldron, his mentor and hero John Landy spoke the oath for all the athletes (picture: olympics.com.au).