Australian athlete stood for rights at home and in the US
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. At left is Australian silver medallist Peter Norman, who wore a civil rights badge in solidarity
By MARGARET REES
Thirty eight years ago, on October 16, 1968, the medals ceremony at the Mexico Olympics was converted into a symbolic demonstration of the struggle against oppression.
US black sprinters Tommy Smith and John Carlos, respectively first and third in the men’s 200 metres, defiantly raised clenched fist salutes as the American national anthem played. Their stand in support of civil rights and against racism reverberated internationally. The photograph of their protest has become one of the most recognised images in the world, after that of the first moon landing.
The unexpected silver medalist, 26-year-old Australian Peter Norman, wore a button of the “Olympic Project for Human Rights” – a civil rights protest movement set up by black athlete Harry Edwards before the Games – in support of his two fellow athletes. Continue reading
By TONY SEED*
Editorial, Shunpiking Magazine
September, 2000, Volume 5, Number 5, Issue #36
In the name of all the competitors I promise that we shall take part in these Olympic Games, respecting and abiding by the rules which govern them, in the true spirit of sportsmanship, for the glory of sport and the honour of our teams. – Olympic oath
THE HUE AND CRY by the sports media about drug infractions and “cheats” in the current Olympics in Sydney, Australia reminds us that there is a murkier, unsporting side to the promotion of international athletics. The intense debate about sport and the responsibilities of athletes also brings to mind an old question; who does sport serve? Is the problem in sport just one of individual athletes? Continue reading
By JOHN PILGER*
Australia is gearing up to host the 2000 Olympics, yet its own sporting history is far removed from the spirit of the Games. Some of its greatest sportspeople were denied the chance to make their mark. Why? Because of the colour of their skin. And even today, to be aborigine, is to be a second-class citizen.
(August 21, 1999) – PHYSCICALLY, there is no place like Sydney: the deep-water harbour, the tiara of Pacific beaches, the estuaries and secret bays where white eucalyptus rise up from the water’s edge. At the city’s centre is a stage-set like a small New York, its props the great bridge, the other-worldly opera house and the sparkling art-deco Olympic pool, built in the 30s, with an honour roll of 86 world swimming records, itself a world record. Beside it is Luna Park, a fun-fair announced by a huge face with a slightly demented smile.
This is Australia’s facade – or showcase, as the promoters of the Olympic Games prefer. Opening in one year’s time, the Games, sing the video choirs, are to herald “a new golden age”, with Australians “the chosen ones to take the dream to the new millennium: a dream we all share.” Continue reading