The Olympic tradition of athletes mingling at the closing ceremony came from an anonymous suggestion!
After all the friendly and sometimes not-so-friendly competition during the Olympic Games, they end with a communal closing ceremony. While the opening ceremony is tense with competition between countries, the closing ceremony is much more laid back. Athletes from across the world, finally done with their events, mingle with one another.
This was not always the case though. This tradition began with the 1956 Olympic Games. These Games were held in Melbourne, Australia during the height of the Cold War. Obviously, political tensions were running high. A number of countries protested the Games or forbid their athletes from mingling with athletes from other countries. Fights broke out and it appeared that the Games were a failed effort.
The International Olympic Committee and the Organizing Committee then discovered an anonymous letter written by a 17-year-old Chinese boy. He was surprised that the athletes were not allowed to mingle with each other during the closing ceremony and explained that the best part of any sporting event was the celebration afterwards. When the committees instituted this change, the Melbourne Games became known as the Friendly Games.