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Eve of 50th Anniversary Celebrations

15 November 2006

Some of the biggest names in Australian sport will return to the MCG on Sunday to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the 1956 Melbourne Olympics.

More than 35 gold medallists from the Melbourne Games including Australians Dawn Fraser, Murray Rose and Betty Cuthbert are expected to attend the celebration which will recreate elements of both the 1956 opening and closing ceremonies.

In an effort to help recreate the feel and mood of the Games former champion Ron Clarke, now Gold Coast Mayor, will re-light the Olympic Cauldron and John Landy, a former Victorian Governor, will re-read the Athlete's Oath.

Current Olympians including Alisa Camplin, Mike McKay, James Tomkins, Lou Dobson, Andrew Hoy will also attend.

The 1956 Olympics began on November 22, 1956 and closed on December 8, the latest in the year the Games have ever been staged, with 3,258 competitors from 72 nations.

A special exhibition entitled "Melbourne 50 Years On" at the Melbourne Exhibition Centre from November 16-19 will showcase the major developments and achievements seen in Melbourne over the past 50 years.

The 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games was the catalyst for significant change in Melbourne and impacted on many areas of society.

The changes included multiculturalism, with the influx of migrants after the Games; the food culture also boomed as a result of the diverse new ethnic element; and there was the introduction of television.

Former Olympic basketballer Wayne Carroll, who is putting together the Melbourne 50 Years On exhibition to commemorate the golden anniversary of the Games, says the Games also provided a platform that has led to the city becoming Australia's major events capital.

"Our perception of how well we could do these things came out of the Games," Carroll said.

"Before '56 the biggest events here were the Melbourne Cup and cricket Tests.

"Now we can stage any event as well as any city in the world."

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