Australia was awarded its first Olympic Games in 1949, but in the years leading up to the 1956 event in Melbourne, a complication began to develop. Participating nations discovered that they would need to quarantine the horses involved in equestrian events for six months before they could compete. The International Olympic Committee asked the Australian authorities to relax their strict rules, but they refused. The IOC decided that the only option was to hold the equestrian events somewhere else -- ultimately resulting in Sweden hosting the dressage, eventing, and jumping contests in June 1956, followed by the rest of the Olympic events taking place in Melbourne in November.
Sweden rides to the rescue:
- Stockholm was selected to host the equestrian events during a 1954 vote by the IOC: Stockholm won with 25 votes, beating out Paris with 10, Rio de Janeiro with 8, and Berlin and Los Angeles with 2 votes each.
- Equestrian Hans Wikne lit the Olympic cauldron in Stockholm while on horseback -- a first for the Games. Another Olympic breakthrough: Horses were part of the opening parade.
- Twenty-nine nations participated in the equestrian events, with Sweden winning three gold medals, the most of any nation. The United Team of Germany took home the most equestrian medals overall, with two gold, three silver, and one bronze.