This was the last World Championships played on natural ice; and were the first World Championships held in the USSR and they are remembered for the political circumstances surrounding the games. Hungary had been recently occupied by the Soviet Army (to suppress the Hungarian Revolution in October and November 1956), and as a result, the United States and Canada boycotted the World Championships in protest. Joining them were Norway, West Germany, Italy and Switzerland. East Germany was participating for the first time.
With the boycott, the home team USSR was heavily favoured to win the tournament, but Sweden surprised the world by pulling off an upset. The first step was taken in their third game, when they beat Czechoslovakia 2-0. This important victory was saved by the head of Leksands IF defenseman Vilgot Larsson. He literally headed the puck away from the Swedish net to save a goal, and in the days before mandatory helmets, received several stitches for his heroics. In the final game, Sweden opened with two goals, but the dynamic Soviets responded with 4 goals of their own. Down by two in the third period, goals by Eilert Määttä and Erling Lindström tied the game, and the goaltending of Thord Flodqvist and play of Sven Tumba Johansson guaranteed the final draw. The USSR had previously only tied Czechoslovakia, so all Sweden needed was one point, or a tie, for gold.
The final game (USSR versus Sweden for the championship) was played on the football field of the Grand Sports Arena of the Luzhniki Stadium. It is reputed that over 50,000 fans (or 55,000, depending on sources) fans saw the game, the most ever for an international hockey game. This stood as the world record until October 6, 2001, when 74,544 fans saw Michigan State University and the University of Michigan play an American NCAA Hockey game outdoors at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing, Michigan.