Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Politics and Olympics

Well, they've always gone together. Check this.

Of particular interest, most are from the New Republic link above:

  • National boycotts began in earnest at the 1956 Australian Olympics. The games began shortly after the 1956 Hungarian uprising and subsequent invasion by Soviet forces. These tensions spilled into the open with a violent confrontation between the Hungarian and Soviet water polo teams, which ended with a Hungarian victory and a bloodied eye for Hungarian Ervin Zador (pictured). Forty five members of the Hungarian team defected to the West after the games ended. Protesting the invasion, The Netherlands, Spain, and Switzerland refused to attend. That same year, Egypt, Iraq, and Lebanon boycotted over the Suez Crisis, while The People's Republic of China did not participate after the IOC allowed Taiwan to compete (under the name "Formosa").
  • Beginning in 1964, South Africa was banned from the games due to its refusal to abandon apartheid law. The nation did not return to the Olympics until 1992, one year after the repeal of all apartheid laws. In 1976, many African nations boycotted the games after New Zealand--which had agreed to play rugby with the South African team in an unrelated competition--was admitted to the games.
  • India did not play cricket with South Africa between '70-'91 when the ICC suspended it over its apartheid policy. This is not related to Olympics, but a good reminder to those who support China, at least in India.
  • In 1984, a group of 14 socialist nations, led by the USSR, boycotted the Los Angeles Olympics. The Soviets officially cited "chauvinistic sentiments and an anti-Soviet hysteria being whipped up in the United States," but it was widely viewed as retribution for the 1980 boycott.[I would like to see what our comrades wrote in defense of Soviet Union then.]
  • Again, not related to Olympics, but it is worth remembering that cricket games were suspended after the Parliament attack in Delhi and resumed once the politicians gave a go ahead. That excludes scores of sadbhavna, bhaichara matches held between Indian and Pakistan or Bangladesh in different sports.

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