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Controversies. ​​​​​​​Politics

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Boycotts
Greece, Australia, France, and United Kingdom are the only countries to be represented at every Olympic Games since their inception in 1896. While countries sometimes miss an Olympics due to a lack of qualified athletes, some choose to boycott a celebration of the Games for various reasons. The Olympic Council of Ireland boycotted the 1936 Berlin Games, because the IOC insisted its team needed to be restricted to the Irish Free State rather than representing the entire island of Ireland.

There were three boycotts of the 1956 Melbourne Olympics: the Netherlands, Spain, and Switzerland refused to attend because of the repression of the Hungarian uprising by the Soviet Union, but did send an equestrian delegation to Stockholm; Cambodia, Egypt, Iraq, and Lebanon boycotted the Games because of the Suez Crisis; and China (the "People's Republic of China") boycotted the Games because Taiwan was allowed to compete in the Games as the "Republic of China".

In 1972 and 1976 a large number of African countries threatened the IOC with a boycott to force them to ban South Africa and Rhodesia, because of their segregationist regimes. New Zealand was also one of the African boycott targets, because its national rugby union team had toured apartheid-ruled South Africa. The IOC conceded in the first two cases, but refused to ban New Zealand on the grounds that rugby was not an Olympic sport. Fulfilling their threat, twenty African countries were joined by Guyana and Iraq in a withdrawal from the Montreal Games, after a few of their athletes had already competed.

Taiwan was excluded from the 1976 games by order of Pierre Elliott Trudeau, the prime minister of Canada. Trudeau's action was widely condemned as having brought shame on Canada for having succumbed to political pressure to keep the delegation from the Republic of China (ROC) from competing under that name. The ROC refused a proposed compromise that would have still allowed them to use the ROC flag and anthem as long as the name was changed. Taiwan did not participate again until 1984, when it returned under the name of Chinese Taipei and with a special flag and anthem.

In 1980 and 1984, the Cold War opponents boycotted each other's Games. The United States and sixty-five other countries boycotted the Moscow Olympics in 1980 because of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. This boycott reduced the number of nations participating to 80, the lowest number since 1956. The Soviet Union and 15 other nations countered by boycotting the Los Angeles Olympics of 1984. Although a boycott led by the Soviet Union depleted the field in certain sports, 140 National Olympic Committees took part, which was a record at the time. The fact that Romania, a Warsaw Pact country, opted to compete despite Soviet demands led to a warm reception of the Romanian team by the United States. When the Romanian athletes entered during the opening ceremonies, they received a standing ovation from the spectators, which comprised mostly U.S. citizens. The boycotting nations of the Eastern Bloc staged their own alternate event, the Friendship Games, in July and August.

There had been growing calls for boycotts of Chinese goods and the 2008 Olympics in Beijing in protest of China's human rights record, and in response to Tibetan disturbances. Ultimately, no nation supported a boycott. In August 2008, the government of Georgia called for a boycott of the 2014 Winter Olympics, set to be held in Sochi, Russia, in response to Russia's participation in the 2008 South Ossetia war.

Politics
The Olympic Games have been used as a platform to promote political ideologies almost from its inception. Nazi Germany wished to portray the National Socialist Party as benevolent and peace-loving when they hosted the 1936 Games, though they used the Games to display Aryan superiority. Germany was the most successful nation at the Games, which did much to support their allegations of Aryan supremacy, but notable victories by African American Jesse Owens, who won four gold medals, and Hungarian Jew Ibolya Csák, blunted the message. The Soviet Union did not participate until the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki. Instead, starting in 1928, the Soviets organised an international sports event called Spartakiads. During the interwar period of the 1920s and 1930s, communist and socialist organisations in several countries, including the United States, attempted to counter what they called the "bourgeois" Olympics with the Workers Olympics. It was not until the 1956 Summer Games that the Soviets emerged as a sporting superpower and, in doing so, took full advantage of the publicity that came with winning at the Olympics. Soviet Union's success might be attributed to a heavy state's investment in sports to fulfill its political agenda on an international stage.

Individual athletes have also used the Olympic stage to promote their own political agenda. At the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City, two American track and field athletes, Tommie Smith and John Carlos, who finished first and third in the 200 metres, performed the Black Power salute on the victory stand. The second-place finisher, Peter Norman of Australia, wore an Olympic Project for Human Rights badge in support of Smith and Carlos. In response to the protest, IOC president Avery Brundage ordered Smith and Carlos suspended from the US team and banned from the Olympic Village. When the US Olympic Committee refused, Brundage threatened to ban the entire US track team. This threat led to the expulsion of the two athletes from the Games. In another notable incident in the gymnastics competition, while standing on the medal podium after the balance beam event final, in which Natalia Kuchinskaya of the Soviet Union had controversially taken the gold, Czechoslovakian gymnast Věra Čáslavská quietly turned her head down and away during the playing of the Soviet national anthem. The action was Čáslavská's silent protest against the recent Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. Her protest was repeated when she accepted her medal for her floor exercise routine when the judges changed the preliminary scores of the Soviet Larisa Petrik to allow her to tie with Čáslavská for the gold. While Čáslavská's countrymen supported her actions and her outspoken opposition to Communism (she had publicly signed and supported Ludvik Vaculik's "Two Thousand Words" manifesto), the new regime responded by banning her from both sporting events and international travel for many years and made her an outcast from society until the fall of communism.

Currently, the government of Iran has taken steps to avoid any competition between its athletes and those from Israel. An Iranian judoka, Arash Miresmaeili, did not compete in a match against an Israeli during the 2004 Summer Olympics. Although he was officially disqualified for being overweight, Miresmaeli was awarded US$125,000 in prize money by the Iranian government, an amount paid to all Iranian gold medal winners. He was officially cleared of intentionally avoiding the bout, but his receipt of the prize money raised suspicion.

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