Examining "the Rhodesian Affair:" the IOC and African Politics in the 1970S (International Olympic Committee)
Proceedings: International Symposium for Olympic Research 2008, Annual
Proceedings: International Symposium for Olympic Research
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Charles Little's detailed account of the exclusion of Rhodesia from the 1968 Mexico City Games provides scholars with a renewed understanding of the African nation's status in the international sport community during the late 1960s. Little contends that the British government was the primary instigator of Rhodesia's exclusion rather than the charge of racism, the explanation made with the neighboring regime of South Africa, whose Olympic Games exclusion has been analyzed in much greater depth. (1) Little's analysis examines the campaign leading up to the 1968 Games, and in his concluding paragraph briefly mentions that Rhodesia was initially invited to the 1972 Munich Games only to be denied entry once other African nations protested. Rhodesia was finally expelled by the IOC in 1975 before being welcomed back to the 1980 Moscow Games as Zimbabwe. (2) Andrew Novak's comprehensive overview of Rhodesia's Olympic participation places the expulsion of Rhodesia within the framework of the International Olympic Committee acting as a charismatic organization "outside the mere mortal world of the ordinary" where sport and politics did not mix. (3) With the inclusion of African nations into the Olympic movement, the newest members challenged the charismatic authority of the IOC, pressing the organization to "recognize political equality as a prerequisite for fair play." This paper examines the relationship between the IOC and Rhodesia following the 1968 Olympic Games, specifically focusing on their exclusion from the 1972 Games, the Commission of Enquiry in 1974, and their subsequent expulsion from the IOC. Initially, the IOC approached what became known as the "Rhodesian Affair" with similar tactics used when they attempted to address South Africa's apartheid system, such as establishing a committee of enquiry to investigate the relationship between sport and race in the country. The central role of African National Olympic Committees and individual members in pressuring the IOC into action will be considered in this process. Efforts made by African NOCs in the forms of motions and proposals often times faced skepticism by their IOC counterparts, who did not fully comprehend the state of sport in Africa or the role governments and politics played in African sport. Moreover, the change in IOC presidential leadership reveals varying approaches used to address problems in African sport. This paper relies largely on minutes of the IOC Executive Board, as well as the larger membership meetings, and correspondence between Rhodesian sport officials and the IOC.
- Category: Sports & Outdoors
- Published: 01 January 2008
- Publisher: International Centre for Olympic Studies
- Print Length: 28 Pages
- Language: English