VERITAS Research Institute and Archives

In the grand scheme of things, the Summer Olympics in Melbourne morphed from a sporting gala into a political event on December 6th, 1956. Both the 1956 Hungarian Revolution and the Suez Crisis made it utterly more difficult to argue that the Melbourne Games was the most significant event of the year. Moreover, the Olympic Games had also been boycotted by the Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland in response to the events in Hungary and by Egypt, Iraq and Lebanon in response to the Suez Crisis.

The official film of the Olympics does not touch upon the Hungarian athletes. By the time it was made, the Australian Olympic Committee had become hesitant to acknowledge the events of the water polo match between the Soviet Union and Hungary. Truth be told, so had the press of the Kádár Era. The daily Népsport, which had temporarily dropped “Nép” from its name as a consequence of the revolution, provided a laconic summary of the Hungarians’ victory in its December 7th, 1956, edition, writing only the following about the match, which Hungary had won 4 to 0: “It was a match marked by tough clashes and many ejections.” There was nothing about Ervin Zádor’s notable head injury that had turned the already antagonistic fans attending the match fully anti-Soviet. Zádor had climbed out of the pool on the side where the fans were seated, in their full view. Everyone clearly saw the blood from his injury running down his body, which resulted in the referees calling the match. This scene, especially by the Western media, was meaningfully depicted as one of the battles of the vanquished 1956 Hungarian Revolution, albeit having taken place in the Olympic swimming pool. On the other hand, detractors made Zádor’s wound out to be nothing more than a common sports injury, but the timing, manner and the fact that a Soviet player had caused it elevated the match, which will live on forever in Hungarian sports lore, to legendary status.

by János Rácz

Source of Image: Herald Sun