Masters Thesis

The Struggle for Reconciliation: The United States, Anti-apartheid Politics, and the Olympic Games.

On April 24, 1968, Avery Brundage, president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), announced that South Africa would not be permitted to participate in the 1968 Mexico Olympic Games. This decision was made due South Africa’s prevailing apartheid policies, which prohibited the creation of racially mixed South African teams, and even outlawed direct international competition against racially mixed teams from other countries. This transformed the Olympic Movement into a battlefield of political agendas and presented a problem for international sport federations such as the IOC that were founded on the fundamental principle that sport should be available to all irrespective of race and ethnicity, gender, religion, or political affiliation. A number of United States organizations, administrators, and private citizens sympathized with IOC president, Avery Brundage and the IOC’s predicament. Some, like Douglas Roby, president of the United States Olympic Committee and a United States representative to the IOC, even pledged their full support for South Africa’s inclusion in the Games by emphasizing his desire to keep politics and sports separate. Like Brundage, Roby argued that if South Africa were to be expelled based on its governmental policies, the Olympic Movement would be doomed to failure. The official decision in 1968 to expel South Africa from the Games would intertwine South African politics and the Olympic Games for the next 24 years.


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