The 1956 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XVI Olympiad, were an international multi-sport event which was held in Melbourne, Australia, in 1956, with the exception of the equestrian events, which could not be held in Australia due to quarantine regulations. Instead, those events were held five months earlier in Stockholm, Sweden, marking the second time that events of the same Olympics were held in different countries. (At the 1920 Summer Olympics in the Antwerp, Belgium, one sailing event had been held in Dutch waters). The 1956 Games were the first to be staged in the Southern Hemisphere.
Melbourne was selected as the host city over bids from Buenos Aires, Mexico City, and six American cities on 28 April 1949, at the 43rd IOC Session in Rome, Italy.
Egypt, Iraq, and Lebanon announced that they would not participate in the Olympics in response to the Suez War when Egypt was invaded by Israel, the United Kingdom, and France. Meanwhile, in 1956 the Soviet Union crushed the Hungarian Revolution, and the Soviet presence at the Games led to the withdrawal of the Netherlands, Spain, and Switzerland from the Games.
Less than two weeks before the 22 November opening ceremony, the People's Republic of China chose to boycott the event because the Republic of China had been allowed to compete under the name "Formosa".
Although the number of countries participating (67) was almost the same as in 1952 (69), the number of athletes competing dropped sharply, from 4,925 to 3,342. (This figure does not include the 158 athletes from 29 countries who took part in the Stockholm equestrian competition.)