Paavo Nurmi bore 1952 the olympic torch into the Stadium
The 1940 Olympics, for which Helsinki had been chosen as the venue, never took place. The war saw to that, but when peace returned the city made a new successful bid to host the games.
For a people recovering from a lost war, the significance of the Olympics was incredibly great. They made it possible for people to be proud of their Finnishness and gave them an opportunity to enjoy great tales of heroism. For a small, tenacious people, success in sport has been a great booster of self-esteem.
Finland rose so well to the task of hosting the games that the 1952 Helsinki Olympiad has been generally looked back on as the most successful of them all. It also been described as the last genuine festival of sport, with no hint of the major media circus that has been the norm ever since.
In all, 4,925 athletes from 69 countries competed. The Finns, whose share of the world population is only a little over one-thousandth, were represented by an impressive 260 athletes.
The Helsinki games were a milestone also in the respect that they were the first in which Russia/the Soviet Union competed since 1912.