The Games of the XVII Olympiad (1960 Summer Olympics), were held in Rome, Italy. A total of 84 nations were represented including Suriname, but its solitary athlete withdrew from competition, leaving a total of 83 nations to compete with approximately 5,000 athletes. An Olympic Stadium and a Sports Palace were built for the Games, but several ancient sites were also restored and used as venues.
The Basilica of Maxentius hosted the wrestling competition. The Baths of Caracalla provided the site of the gymnastic events. The marathon was run along the Appian Way and ended under the Arch of Constantine.
These were the first Olympics to be fully covered by television. Eurovision provided live television broadcasts throughout Europe. The CBS paid $US 394,000 for the right to broadcast the Games in the United States. Taped footage of the Games was flown to New York City at the end of each day and broadcast on the CBS television network in the United States. In addition the Olympics were telecast for the first time in Canada (on CBC Television) and in Mexico (through the networks of Telesistema Mexicano). South Africa appeared in the Olympic arena for the last time under its apartheid regime and it was not allowed to return until 1992, after the abandonment of apartheid and during the transition to majority rule.
There was sponsorship at the games. Armin Hary (Germany) won the 100 metres in an Olympic record time of 10.2 seconds. He accepted payments from rival footwear makers and outraged his duped sponsors by wearing Puma shoes for the race, changing into an Adidas pair to mount the medals stand. This was an unprecedented overt display of play for pay. American weightlifters discreetly pocketed under-the-table loans and bonuses from a dumb-bell company.
Women’s athletics were dominated by American sprinter Wilma Rudolph, who won three gold medals. Wilma was acclaimed "the fastest woman in the world," yet unbeknown to many she suffered polio as a child.
Australian athlete Herb Elliott won the men's 1500 meters in one of the most dominating performances in Olympic history.
Abebe Bikila (Ethiopia) ran barefooted in the marathon. He was a late replacement for an injured team-mate. The long distance runner arrived in Rome with one pair of running shoes but they were ruined in training. His replacements caused blisters so he decided to compete barefoot. The soles of his feet were toughened by miles of shoeless training on the high Ethiopian plains. The athletes followed Mussolini's triumphant thoroughfare past the Coliseum, the Palatine Hill and the Circus Maximus. Finishing in 2hr 15min 16sec, Bikila shattered the Olympic record and set a new world best, before dancing a jig of joy beneath the Arch of Constantine where many of his rivals simply collapsed. Abebe's time was 2hr 15min 16.2sec, which was 7min 47sec better than Emil Zatopek's Olympic record.
United States athlete Cassius Clay (aka Muhammad Ali), won a gold medal in light heavyweight.
Soviet gymnasts won 15 of 16 possible medals in women's gymnastics and in sailing both he future Constantine II, King of Greece, won his country a gold in sailing Dragon Class.
Danish cyclist Knud Enemark Jensen (23) collapsed during his race under the influence of Roniacol and later died in the hospital from a fractured skull. It was the second time an athlete died in competition at the Olympics, after the death of Portuguese marathon runner Francisco Lázaro at the 1912 Summer Olympics.