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Video Cold War games,1999

TLF ID M008207

'Cold War games' is an excerpt from the documentary 'Lies, Spies and Olympics', produced in 1999. 'Lies, Spies and Olympics' studies the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games, which have become etched in Australian mythology as a watershed in the nation's sporting, cultural and civic history. But behind the myth is a far more revealing story: an epic saga of lies and petty bickering during the lead-up to the Games that almost saw the IOC take the Games from Melbourne. It is also a dramatic political story, during which the goodwill of Melbourne was undermined by Cold War skulduggery, defections and even murder; extraordinary events involving the highest offices of Australian Olympic and political power. A Film Australia National Interest Program in association with Rob McAuley Productions, produced with the assistance of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Educational details

Educational value
  • Following the Second World War a small group of Victorian amateur athletes, with less than seven pounds in their bank account, dreamt of bringing the Olympic Games to Melbourne. Against all odds, they realised their fanciful dream and the Games of the XVI Olympiad became a watershed in Australia's sporting, civic and cultural history.
  • Behind the myth of the 1956 Olympic Games is a far more revealing story: an epic saga, spiced with petty squabbles, lies and broken promises, that created world news during the lead-up to the Games, and almost saw the IOC (International Olympic Committee) strip them from Melbourne. After years of crises, the most prestigious international sporting event in the world finally went ahead for the first time in the Southern Hemisphere. The opening ceremony was hailed as the most impressive ever staged.
  • But it was the height of the Cold War and tensions between the USSR and the USA threatened to derail the Games. Behind the scenes, the Melbourne Games were nearly undone by superpower skulduggery, defections and even murder, involving the highest offices of Australian Olympic and political power. Tensions between USA and USSR¬†obviously defined later Olympic Games in the 1980s but already in 1956 they threatened to derail the Games from the outset. The eruption of violence in the water polo final between USSR and Hungary was accompanied by Australian and USA government offers of asylum to Hungarian athletes. The increased tensions were reflected in the presence of Australian soldiers in the Olympic village and the suspected murder of a Hungarian intelligence informant by USSR 'agents'.
Year level

9; 10; 11; 12

Learning area
  • Health and Physical education
  • History
  • Science

Other details

  • Contributor
  • Name: National Film and Sound Archive
  • Organization: National Film and Sound Archive
  • Description: content provider
  • Address: ACT, AUSTRALIA
  • URL:
  • Publisher
  • Name: National Film and Sound Archive (NFSA)
  • Organization: National Film and Sound Archive (NFSA)
  • Description: Publisher
  • Address: ACT, AUSTRALIA
  • URL:
  • Resource metadata contributed by
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organisation: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Address: AUSTRALIA
  • URL:
Access profile
  • Generic
Learning Resource Type
  • Video
  • ¬© Education Services Australia Ltd and National Film and Sound Archive, 2011 (except where otherwise indicated). You may view, display, print out and copy this material for non-commercial educational purposes provided you retain all acknowledgements associated with the material.