Humanities › History & Culture History of the 1948 Olympic Games in London Share Flipboard Email Print (Photo by Haywood Magee/Picture Post/Getty Images) History & Culture The 20th Century Fads & Fashions People & Events Early 20th Century The 20s The 30s The 40s The 50s The 60s The 80s The 90s American History African American History African History Ancient History and Culture Asian History European History Genealogy Inventions Latin American History Medieval & Renaissance History Military History Women's History View More By Jennifer Rosenberg History Expert B.A., History, University of California at Davis Jennifer Rosenberg is a historian and writer who specializes in 20th-century history. our editorial process Jennifer Rosenberg Updated November 18, 2019 Since the Olympic Games had not been held in either 1940 or 1944 because of World War II, there was much debate as to whether or not to hold the 1948 Olympic Games at all. Ultimately, the 1948 Olympic Games (also known as the XIV Olympiad) were held, with a few post-war modifications, from July 28 to August 14, 1948. These "Austerity Games" turned out to be very popular and a great success. Fast Facts Official Who Opened the Games: British King George VIPerson Who Lit the Olympic Flame: British runner John MarkNumber of Athletes: 4,104 (390 women, 3,714 men)Number of Countries: 59 countriesNumber of Events: 136 Post-War Modifications When it was announced that the Olympic Games would be resumed, many debated whether it was wise to have a festival when many European countries were in ruins and the people near starvation. To limit the United Kingdom's responsibility to feed all the athletes, it was agreed that the participants would bring their own food. Surplus food was donated to British hospitals. No new facilities were built for these Games, but the Wembley Stadium had survived the war and proved adequate. No Olympic Village was erected; the male athletes were housed at an army camp in Uxbridge and the women housed at Southlands College in dormitories. Missing Countries Germany and Japan, the aggressors of World War II, were not invited to participate. The Soviet Union, although invited, also did not attend. Two New Items The 1948 Olympics saw the introduction of blocks, which are used to help start runners in sprint races. Also new was the very first, Olympic, indoor pool; Empire Pool. Amazing Stories Badmouthed because of her older age (she was 30) and because she was a mother (of two young children), Dutch sprinter Fanny Blankers-Koen was determined to win a gold medal. She had participated in the 1936 Olympics, but the cancellation of the 1940 and 1944 Olympics meant that she had to wait 12 more years to get another shot at winning. Blankers-Koen, often called "the Flying Housewife" or "the Flying Dutchman," showed them all when she took home four gold medals, the first woman to do so. On the other side of the age-spectrum was 17-year-old Bob Mathias. When his high school coach had suggested he try out for the Olympics in the decathlon, Mathias didn't even know what that event was. Four months after starting training for it, Mathias won gold at the 1948 Olympics, becoming the youngest person to win a men's athletics event. (As of 2015, Mathias still holds that title.) One Major Snafu There was one major snafu at the Games. Though the United States had won the 400-meter relay by a full 18 feet, a judge ruled that one of the U.S. team members had passed the baton outside of the passing zone. Thus, the U.S. team was disqualified. The medals were handed out, the national anthems were played. The United States officially protested the ruling and after careful review of the films and photographs taken of the baton pass, the judges decided that the pass had been completely legal; thus the United States team was the real winner. The British team had to give up their gold medals and received silver medals (which had been given up by the Italian team). The Italian team then received the bronze medals which had been given up by the Hungarian team.