The need for a modern definition of Olympic sports

By PEGGY MORTON, TML Daily, February 27, 2010

THE self-serving domination of the rich who use the Olympics for their own ends has a sordid history which shows how the domination of finance capital and the most reactionary elements is blocking a human-centred approach. While everyone speaks in the name of high ideals, the fact is that those who control the Olympics have used this control for the most anti-social aims. For more than 40 years of the post-World War II period, that is, following the defeat of fascism by the world’s people and the achievements which came from that victory, the International Olympics Committee (IOC) was actually led by pro-fascist elements.

From 1952 to 1972, the IOC was led by a U.S.ian, Avery Brundage. Brundage first gained a seat on the IOC after the sitting American representative was expelled for urging athletes to boycott the Berlin games in 1936. This is the only time any member of the IOC has been expelled. The 1936 Olympics saw the Nazification of sport in Germany, and the use of the Olympics to promote fascism, chauvinism and revanchism. Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda stated: “German sport has only one task: to strengthen the character of the German people, imbuing it with the fighting spirit and steadfast camaraderie necessary in the struggle for its existence.” It was these Olympics in which the torch relay was first held, carrying the torch from Olympia in Greece to Berlin.

The official circles portray Brundage as a defender of high ideals who fought to maintain the Olympics strictly as a contest of the greatest athletes, without any “political overtones.” His opposition to the 1936 boycott was ostensibly on the basis of these high ideals. In reality, Brundage was pro-Nazi, a virulent anti-Communist and anti-Semite who believed that there was a “Jewish-Communist conspiracy” that existed to keep the United States out of competing in the Berlin Olympics. Brundage could see no evil whether it was the Berlin Olympics, where he raised no objection to the use of the Nazi salute, or apartheid in South Africa or Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) and the admission of “all-white” athletes from apartheid regimes.

Mexico City, October 16, 1968: U.S. sprinters Tommie Smith (centre) and John Carlos (right) take the podium for their medal ceremony and raise their fists in the Black Power salute. Also pictured is Australian runner Peter Norman who wore a civil rights badge in solidarity

But his response in Mexico City at the 1968 Summer Olympics to the courageous Afro-American sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos, winners of the men’s 200 metre gold and bronze medals respectively was swift and brutal. Smith and Carlos took their places on the podium in stocking feet and wearing civil rights badges. As the Star Spangled Banner was played, they each lowered their heads and in an act of protest and solidarity raised a black-gloved fist in the Black Power salute. They were expelled from the Olympic Village, suspended from the U.S. Olympic team, and banned from the Olympics for life. A virulent misogynist, Brundage also opposed women’s participation in the Olympics. [1]

Samaranch gives fascist salute

From 1980 to 2001, the IOC was headed by an overt fascist, Juan Antonio Samaranch, a supporter of Franco. Under Samaranch, the IOC was known for corruption, scandal, bribery, and the obscenely enormous expenditures incurred on his own behalf and that of IOC officials. Samaranch insisted on being referred to as “excellency” as though he were a head of state. Under Samaranch, global sponsorship schemes and broadcasting arrangements worth vast sums were put in place and the international financial oligarchy further tightened its grip on the Olympics.

The likes of Brundage and Samaranch, overt supporters of Hitler, Mussolini and Franco have passed from the scene of history. But greed and the self-serving interests of the monopolies to make a killing on the games, and to use them for their narrow aims has not departed with them. This domination of the financial oligarchy is threatening to strangle everything positive, showing their moribund character and the need for the working class and its allies to restrict these monopolies and not permit their domination of sports and culture and to fight for a human-centred Olympics movement.

Note by TS:

1.  In 1936 Avery Brundage had served as Chairman of the Olympic Games when they were held under Nazi auspices in Berlin, despite international protests. It is little known that the isolationist financier in 1940 organized Citizen’s Keep America Out of War Committee, “one of a strange series of lavishly financed so-called ‘peace’ organizations [that] appeared one after the other on the American political scene during the crucial years immediately preceding the open Axis attack and declaration of war on the United States. Some ‘peace’ organizations were founded and financed by German agents, or maintained close connections with them; others were set up and financed by American isolationists.

The Citizen’s Keep America Out of War Committee spread quantities of anti-British and anti-Soviet propaganda and held mass meetings at which Charles E. Lindbergh and other isolationist leaders denounced America’s aid to nations fighting the Axis. Rallies sponsored by Brundage’s Committee were arranged in cooperation with a number of pro-Nazi German-American groups grouped together in the Einheitsfront….

“The America First Committee was founded in September 1940. It was headed by the isolationist Chicago businessman General Robert E. Wood, who publicly stated that he was willing to hand Europe over to Hitler and, if necessary, all of South America ‘below the bulge.’ Other early America First leaders included: Henry Ford, who had accepted a medal from Hitler; Avery Brundage, former head of the Citizens Keep America Out of War Committee; Charles A. Lindbergh, who had accepted a medal from Hitler and who advocated cooperation with Germany in a war against Soviet Russia; Representative Hamilton Fish, whose Washington office had been used by George Sylvester Viereck as the headquarters of his Nazi propaganda ring; Representative Clare E. Hoffman, reprints of whose Congressional speeches, one of which was sub-titled Roosevelt Is a Judas, were widely distributed throughout the United States by pro-Nazis and American fascists; Senator Burton K. Wheeler, whose isolationist, anti-British and antiSoviet speeches were circulated by Nazi agents; and Senator Gerald P. Nye, who subsequently excused Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor by saying it was ‘just what Britain planned for us.’

“‘The America First Committee is truly American and truly patriotic!’ announced the Nazi Propaganda Ministry in a special shortwave radio broadcast to the United States on January 22, 1941.”

(Michael Sayers and Albert E. Kahn, The Plot Against The Peace: A Warning to the Nation!, New York: Dial Press, 1945, pp. 188-189 and p. 191.)

3 Comments

Filed under Olympics – Vancouver

3 responses to “The need for a modern definition of Olympic sports

  1. Pingback: Legendary Olympian puts Charles Barkley in his place | Friendship First, Competition Second – An Amateur Sport Website

  2. Pingback: The politics of futbol: When Real Madrid was the fascist Franco’s team | Friendship First, Competition Second – An Amateur Sport Website

  3. Pingback: Samaranch: ‘Great survivor’ and Spanish fascist who left corrupted Olympic legacy | Friendship First, Competition Second – An Amateur Sport Website

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