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Wake Up Call – Olympics Are No Game

Submitted by on 22 Aug 2008 – 4:26 PM Comments

Have you ever wondered why the Olympics attract such an eclectic crowd? Not only athletes, but the expected sports fans, and, more surprisingly, dictators, resistants, terrorists, and activists. Here are a few historical events that demonstrate how the Games are one of the largest political platforms in the world.



During the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, the Games were used as a political tool by the Nazis. While Germany mentally prepared its citizens for war through “Aryan race” brainwashing , German long jumper, Lutz Long, went against the blonde haired supremacy notions and gave advice to African-American competitor, Jesse Owens. With this advice, Owens went on the win the Gold medal in the Long Jump. Lutz left with the Silver at the expense of his own advice. “It took a lot of courage for him to befriend me in front of Hitler. You can melt down all the medals and cups I have and they wouldn’t be a plating on the twenty-four karat friendship that I felt for Lutz Long at that moment.” – Jesse Owens


At the height of the Civil Rights movement in the US, two African-American medalists advocated that the cause they defended was far bigger than the race they won. Track and Field stars, Tommy Smith and John Carlos, saluted to Black Power with a pair of raised fists on the victory stand after winning the Gold and Bronze medals in the 200-meter race at the 1968 Summer Games in Mexico City. Their participation in the silent protest against segregation caused them to be sent home due to pressure on the United States by the International Olympics Committee.


In 1972, when the Summer Games were held in Munich, West Germany, members of the Israeli Olympic team were taken hostage by Palestinian terrorist group, Black September. In what is now known as the Munich massacre, two members of the Israeli team were murdered by Black September members. A botched rescue attempt at the Munich airport led to the deaths of the remaining members of the team, along with the majority of the terrorists and members of the police force. The massacre resulted in heightened security at all subsequent Olympic Games.


The “Miracle on Ice” is the nickname given to a February 22 medal-round men’s ice hockey game during the 1980 Olympic Winter Games, in which a team of amateur and collegiate players from the United States, led by coach Herb Brooks, defeated the Soviet Union, considered to be the best international hockey team in the world, 4-3. The U.S went on to win the gold medal by beating Finland (4–2) in their final game. The Soviet Union took the silver by beating Sweden in their final game. In 1980 and 1984, issues surrounding the Cold War caused boycotts of the Games. The US and 64 other Western nations refused to compete at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Moscow, after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The boycott reduced the number of competing nations to 80, the lowest number of nations to compete since 1956. In response, the Soviet Union opted out of the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984, arguing that the safety of their athletes could not be guaranteed because of “chauvinistic sentiments and anti-Soviet hysteria in the United States”. It wasn’t until 1991 that the Cold War quietly came to a close.


At the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, domestic terrorist Eric Robert Randolph set off a 40-pound pipe bomb in the Centennial Olympic park, killing one and injuring over 100 others. Randolph protested that the bombing was an attempt to attack multinational corporations funding the ’96 Olympic Games’ movement to promote values of global socialism. The idea was to empty the Atlanta streets and close the vendors to eat away at the corporate money invested in the Games which supported a government that Randolph wanted to “confound, anger, and embarrass … in the eyes of the world for its abominable sanctioning of abortion on demand.” He was also convicted of bombing a gay night club and two abortion clinics.


Did you know that there are 10 fewer countries recognized by the United Nations than what the International Olympic Committee (IOC) permits to participate as a nation in the Games. Territories such as Puerto Rico, Bermuda, and Hong Kong compete as separate nations, despite legally being a part of another country. Before the Moscow Winter Games in 1980, the People’s Republic of China refused to participate because Taiwan had previously competed under the name “Republic of China.” For the Moscow Games, Taiwan competed under the name “Chinese Taipei” with a flag specially created by the IOC.


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