The 2012 Olympic Games run from 27 July to 12 August. Australia is one of only three nations to have participated in all 27 summer Olympics since 1896 (the others are Great Britain, this year’s host, and Switzerland).
Australia has hosted the summer Olympics twice. Ken Syme’s silent, colour home-movie footage of Melbourne in 1956 captures the celebratory mood of the Olympic city (Syme, Ken: Melbourne Olympic Games, 1956).
Not only were these games the first held outside Europe or the US, Australia is still the only Southern Hemisphere country to have hosted (Brazil will be the second, in 2016). The 1956 Olympics were also the first to be televised live to the rest of the world and an Australia Post documentary highlights this feat of modern telecommunications (Australia Post – Olympic Post Script, 1956).
More recently, Sydney hosted the 2000 Olympics. David Goldie interviewed athletes in the lead-up to the games to investigate the makings of a champion (Spirit 2000: Countdown to Sydney, 1998).
Both Australian-set games inspired their share of satirical comedy. The Games took aim at the organisational decisions behind the Sydney Olympics. London 2012 has spawned a BBC mockumentary on the same theme, Twenty Twelve (2011–12).
In Jim Sharman’s offbeat feature Shirley Thompson versus the Aliens (1972), aliens animate a wax dummy of HRH the Duke of Edinburgh to address a worldwide audience at the Melbourne Olympics.
Nearing the Melbourne Olympics (1956) is an eight-minute documentary produced by the Commonwealth Film Unit which you can now watch in full on the NFSA Film Australia Collection YouTube channel.
Read more about Australia’s record at the Olympics on Wikipedia.