On this day in 1964…


South Africa has been barred from taking part in the 18th Olympic Games in Tokyo over its refusal to condemn apartheid.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced the decision in Lausanne, Switzerland, after South Africa failed to meet an ultimatum to comply with its demands by 16 August.

The IOC originally withdrew South Africa’s invitation to Japan during the winter games in Innsbruck, Austria.

It said the decision could be overturned only if South Africa renounced racial discrimination in sport and opposed the ban in its own country on competition between white and black athletes.

More at the BBC

It happened again in 1992.


  1. #1 rogue medic
    August 19, 2008

    The Olympics is not a good place for politics. Boycotting the Olympics has not been a productive activity. In 1936, Munich was the host city for the Summer games. Had there been a boycott, a bunch of embarrassing defeats would not have been handed to Nazi Germany. There were boycotts in 1976, 1980, and 1984. The terrorist politics of 1972 also did not accomplish what the killers intended.

  2. #2 Greg Laden
    August 19, 2008

    Berlin. Not Munich.

    I agree that generally speaking boycotts of this type are of little value (and this post is not a statement about that, just noting the news event).

    However, I do want to note that the South African boycott of the 1980s, which involved hundreds of exclusions or boycotts of the type noted here for the 1992 Olympics, was probably an exception to that case, and probably worked.

    That boycott was widespread and pretty thorough, ignored by very few (I still counter-boycott that snot Paul Simon, who violated it because he thought his own efforts at cultural rip-off were more important than ending Apartheid). There are good reasons to believe that this hastened the end of apartheid and avoided the front-line invasion that was otherwise pretty likely, and would have turned into a massive Bay of Pigs event with very bad consequences for everyone.

  3. #3 rogue medic
    August 19, 2008

    You are right, Munich was only 1972.

    As for the end of apartheid being even remotely peaceful, read this post by a very interesting man from South Africa. Remembering Mike.

    If I remember correctly, 1976 was the apartheid related boycott. 1980 was Afghanistan (Moscow hosted). Then the USSR returned the favor for the 1984 Los Angeles games.

  4. #4 Greg Laden
    August 19, 2008

    I don’t believe I said or implied that the end of apartheid was peaceful. I referred specifically to the presumed invasion of the well-armed Apartheid South Africa by the front line states as having been avoided. (though of course that may not have happened anyway, one never knows.)

    Inter sting post at that link. Too bad it does not ring believable, at least to me.

    Right, I think most of the Olympic boycotts were cold-war US/USSR things. What is referred to above is a banning which was not a boycott of the Olympics, but part of the overall boycott of S.A., which involved not inviting South African’s (scholars, athletes, etc.) to events, or uninviting them.

  5. #5 rogue medic
    August 19, 2008

    I understand the difference between the boycotts and the ban of South African athletes from the Olympics. I think that the use of this event for politics is a bad choice. Other bans or boycotts may be effective, but the Olympics will only end up being a political event. Some politics is unavoidable, but the example of athletes from all backgrounds competing fairly is desirable. As fairly as possible, considering the problems with performance enhancing drugs and other performance enhancements.