Olympic movement

This can and does occur, not only because of the colour of a person’s skin but also because of their nationality. Many countries have a population made up of more than once race, with conflicts occurring between the different people. They may even speak different languages and live in separate areas within the country, so their access to sporting facilities may be completely different.

Usually, the origins of racial conflict within a country are political. There have been many such conflicts over the years and these have led to problems in sporting contests.This has particularly been the case with black and coloured sports performers and athletes. In this sort of situation, the racial groups are often called sub-cultures. Race and sport It has long been part of the Olympic ideal that athletes should be free to participate in the Olympic Games irrespective of race, colour or creed.

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That this has not yet truly come to pass reflects more on the values of today’s world than those of the Olympic organisation.Mass access to sport is as a result of a broad spectrum of political and cultural values as much as of any particular sporting organisations, however large it may be. The constraints placed upon certain cultural and sub-cultural groups are mainly those of a majority culture over minority ethnic groups. Sometimes constraints are self-imposed, or at lease imposed on certain sectors or a group. Moroccan women for example are excluded from sporting participation by their own culture.

In order for any minority racial group to have equal opportunity for participation, it must also have equal opportunity for access, and by logical extension, equal provision or equal access to provision. Access can be denied in three ways: In the ten decades since the white Anglo-American culture has been the dominant force on the world of Olympic sport, things have changed, both within, and even more importantly, outside that world. The imposition by one culture of its values on a minority or ethnic culture is not the issue here. It is the exclusion of racial minorities from existing access, or the failure to extend such provision in a way that provides access that is appropriate.As far as the Olympic Games are concerned, the IOC tries to see that member countries are brought into line, where such issues are identified.

The Olympic Solidarity programmes and the various IOC commissions are responsible for programmes of education and provision in identified areas of the greatest need. Stacking Stacking is a term used for the order in which minority cultures/groups are ranked in order of acceptance by the dominant culture. In the Olympic context this meant that white western Europeans were dominant.Stacking reflects the cultural values with nation groups. The White Anglo-Saxon Protestant (WASP) culture that predominates in Britain, the United States and Europe was very much reflected in the Olympic movement when it was started. The running of the organisation and its development was controlled from the centre. Rules for admission were laid down which were framed to the advantage of the people who ran it.

In other words, they decided who would be in and who would not.Racial discrimination exists in all cultures and in many walks of life. The inclination of a cultural group to perpetuate its own well being and its values is best served by excluding those of a dissimilar background. Exclusion on the basis of race – particularly colour – is one of the least subtle forms of such exclusion. In many respects what happens in sport is no different from in life generally. This does not, however, make it acceptable or excusable.

Ranking social groupings The USA is probably the best-documented multi-cultural society and it is now almost traditional to rank social groupings there in a pecking order. In Australia the maltreatment of the indigenous population has recently received much wider and more sympathetic hearing than before. Hopefully this is a sign of enlightenment and not just ‘window-dressing’ in the run-up to the Sydney Games. It may also be fewer co-incidentals that in both societies, the indigenous population has been the most abused and figure lowest in the pecking order.

Stereotypes and myths There are many forms of racial stereotypes. At best they are, however misguided, intended to be positive referrals to specific cultural groupings. The practice of nick-naming US sports teams is probably ironic because it is a reminder of the ill-treatment of Native Americans by early white settlers. The mythical association of physical qualities with cultural groups is another form of stereotyping. Apartheid The policy of apartheid supported by former South African governments segregated people on the basis of their race – to the disadvantage of the majority black population. After years of international pressure, the IOC finally withdrew South Africa’s invitation to compete in the 1960 Olympics.

It was to be many years before they returned.The Olympic movement became involved in the apartheid issue not only because of it initial reluctance to exclude South Africa from membership but because of New Zealand’s insistence on continuing its sporting links with that country. Visits of New Zealand teams to South Africa and return trips to New Zealand were seen, particularly by the African nations, as showing approval of the oppressive administration, which discriminated openly against black and coloured people.

New Zealand’s intransigence in this mater led directly to the African boycotts of the Montreal Games in 1976. It also added to the absences from Moscow four years later, when many other countries objected to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. In 1992 South Africa was readmitted to the Olympic fold. Apartheid was ended and – at least in theory – the opportunity was there for all South African citizens, of whatever colour, to represent their country in sport.