an overview

Research Paper Index

Research Paper no. 32 2007–08

The modern Olympics: an overview

Dr Rhonda Jolly
Social Policy Section
3 June 2008

Executive summary

  • This paper provides brief background information for Australian Parliamentarians on the origins of the Olympics and a snapshot of the development of the Games since the first modern Olympics were held in 1896. Particular reference is made to the Melbourne Olympics in 1956 and the Sydney Olympics in 2000. The achievements of Australian Olympians are also a special focus of the paper.
  • The paper also provides an insight into the many social and political dimensions of the Olympics.


Executive summary
Part 1: Evolution
  The ancient Games
  The modern Games
  Pierre de Coubertin
  Athletic achievements
  Australian achievements
  Brief historical synopsis of the Games
  The Olympic Games in Australia

- Melbourne 1956


- Sydney 2000

Part 2: Administration and symbols
  The International Olympic Committee

- Membership


- Role


- IOC Commissions

  National Olympic Committees

- Australian Olympic Committee


- Athletes eligibility


- Wildcard provisions


- World Olympians Association

  Symbols of the Games

- The Olympic Rings


- Olympic Medals

  - Olympic mascots
  - The Olympic Flame and Torch
Part 3: Olympic Issues
  - Contradictory views of performance enhancing drugs
  Race and the Games
  Politics and the Games

1956: a tale of two invasions


- Suez Crisis


- Soviet invasion of Hungary

  Cold War Games
  China and Taiwan
Beijing 2008
Appendix A: Australian athletes at the Games
Appendix B: Some Australian Olympians who entered politics
  Summer Games
  Winter Games
Appendix C: Summer and Winter Games venues



The Olympic Games, it is said, represent ideals of humanity's highest callings a universal quest for peace, moral integrity, and an exalted mix of mind, body, and spirit that transcends culture .[2]

Since the first modern Games were held in 1896 however, the Olympics have regularly been the subject of controversy and scandal. They have also been used as a tool to promote political agendas, racism and nationalism and, in recent times, they have been criticised for excessive commercialisation and ongoing drug controversies have tarnished their reputation.

Some Games issues, like those concerning the amateur status of athletes, are less relevant today as the result of changes to the rules of competition. Others, such as accusations relating to the bribery of officials, remain contentious. Blatant nationalist attempts to hijack the Games, which include the Nazi propaganda Games of 1936, have been relegated to the past. But the Games continue as a tool to promote nationalism, albeit of a less virulent type. Since the 1984 Olympics held in Los Angeles, the opening ceremonies of the Games have increasingly become massive publicity campaigns for each host city s accomplishments and the cultural significance of host countries. This trend is likely to be underlined at the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

While the intensity of Cold War politics no longer influences the Games, other political issues, like human rights, endure. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has consistently argued that politics plays no part in Olympic competition and it has banned athletes for so called political protest. Yet despite the IOC s attempt to disregard politics, it has not been able to operate in a political vacuum. Its responses to incidents which have reflected world circumstances have clearly involved a political dimension or stance, for example, its decision to continue the Games following the massacre of athletes in Munich in 1972.

Indeed, it can be argued that the vision expounded by Baron de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Games, that the Olympics should be a catalyst for cooperation between nations, has ensured that politics is inseparable from the Games and that IOC attempts to distance the Games from politics or to reconfigure political incidents in other terms are in themselves political statements.

At the same time, the IOC has championed an ancient tradition of an Olympic truce under which the cessation of all hostilities and warfare occurs during the period of the Games. Some have suggested that conducting the Olympics on a neutral site may go further towards this aim than the current practice of choosing host cities, as this move may produce more friendly competition and better cooperation between the nations of the world.[3]

But it may mean that that we lose something of the essence of the Olympics. As one commentator muses:

Every four years, as the Olympics approach, or more tragically, disappoint our ideals, they provide us with a dramatic indication of who we are. Perhaps that is the best argument for their continuation.[4]

It is not possible in this brief snapshot of the Olympics to discuss all the highlights (and lowlights) of the Olympics of the modern era. Nor is it possible to discuss all the issues that now preoccupy Olympic officials, or general or particular criticisms of the Games. The paper seeks instead to provide some insight for Australian Parliamentarians into the many dimensions of the Olympics. This in turn may illustrate a conclusion that because in some way the Olympics define humanity, they continue to capture our imagination.

While the paper refers to the Beijing Olympics, it does not attempt to discuss these Games in any depth. Instead, it provides historical context and discussion of issues that have been of significance in the staging of previous Games from which a number of the debates that have emerged since Beijing s successful candidacy was announced in 2001 may be considered.

The paper is organised into three broad sections: Part 1 provides an overview of the Olympics from ancient times to the present with particular reference to the Melbourne and Sydney Games in 1956 and 2000 respectively. Part 2 looks at aspects of the administration of the Games and the Olympic symbols. Part 3 considers some of the issues which have been, and some which remain critical in the evolution of the modern Games.

In addition, the paper includes a number of appendices, the first of which provides information on, and links to Australian Olympic statistics as well as a selection of Australian Olympic performances. Other appendices provide a list of Olympics sites with links to these as well as general information on medal tallies and athletes achievements at the Games.

Part 1: Evolution

The ancient Games

Some historians argue the Olympics may have begun as early as 1200 BC as part of funeral ceremonies held for important Greek citizens, but generally it is agreed that by 776 BC there were regular sporting games held at Olympia, a site on the western part of the Pelopponese.

It is thought the only Olympic event at first was a 200 yard race called the stade or stadium and that each Olympiad was named after the winner of this race.[5] In time, other events were added to the ancient Olympics program. In 708 BC for example, wrestling and the pentathlon, consisting of running, wrestling, leaping, discus throwing and javelin hurling, were included.[6] There were no team games and no ball games in the ancient Olympics, as the Greeks regarded them as trivial.[7]

There is some debate about whether women were able to participate in these events or even if they were able to attend the ancient Games.[8]

While the Games were dedicated to the Greek gods, they were fundamentally secular.[9] The Games were so significant to the Greeks that they based their calendar on the Olympiad, that is, the four years between each of these sporting events.[10] A further indication of the importance of the ancient Games was that they were held despite the occurrence of other events, including wars, and a sacred truce was instituted during their conduct.[11] This involved cessation of all hostilities between Greek city states and no death penalties were imposed during Olympic competition.

After the Romans conquered Greece in the second century BC, the Games began to decline in popularity and importance. When the Emperor Constantine (306 337AD) formally adopted Christianity, the Games were labelled amongst pagan religious practices that were discouraged, so this decline was hastened. The Emperor Theodosius I eventually officially abolished the ancient Games in 394 AD.[12]

An Olympic myth

There are several Greek myths about how the Olympic Games began. According to one from the poet Pindar, on his fifth of the ten labours set by the oracle at Delphi, Hercules was required to clean the stables of King Augeas of Elis.

Hercules approached Augeas and promised to complete the task for the price of one-tenth of the king's cattle. Augeas agreed and Hercules rerouted rivers to flow through the stables. Augeas did not fulfil his promise, however, and after Hercules finished his labours, he returned and sacked the city of Elis.

He then instituted the Olympic Games in honour of his father, Zeus.[13]

The modern Games

Pierre de Coubertin

The French educator, Pierre de Coubertin (1863 1937), is considered to be the founder of the modern Olympic Games. De Coubertin believed that participation in sport helped form the character of young people.[14] Consequently, he promoted the principles of what he defined as Olympism .[15] To follow these principles was to adhere to an ideal of a higher life, to strive for perfection , to represent an elite whose origins are completely egalitarian and at the same time chivalry with its moral qualities, to create a four-yearly festival of the springtime of mankind and to glorify beauty by the involvement of the philosophic arts in the Games .[16]

In 1894, de Coubertin founded an International Olympic Committee (IOC) to act as an overall organising body for the Olympic Movement and served as its President from 1896 to 1925.

In recognition of the ideals upon which he founded the modern Olympic Movement and his contribution to the Games, since 1964 the Pierre de Coubertin International Trophy for Fair Play has been awarded to individuals or teams who defend and promote sportsmanship in the Olympics.[17]

Athletic achievements

Since 1896, nearly 100 000 athletes have competed in the Olympics. Mostly these athletes have sought to perform to their utmost ability and in so doing they have produced outstanding feats of endurance, strength, speed, grace and coordination. Great individual international champions who have excelled at their individual sports have included runners Paavo Nurmi,[18] Emil Zatopek[19] and Carl Lewis;[20] swimmers Mark Spitz[21] and Michael Phelps[22] and gymnasts, Nadia Comaneci,[23] Larysa Latynina[24] and Aleksandr Dityatin.[25] Legendary team performances include those of the Indian field hockey team, which won Olympic gold from 1928 to 1956.[26] Inspiring achievements by Paralympians complement these feats, with the performances of Australians Louise Sauvage, Bart Bunting, Kieran Modra and Michael Milton among them.[27]

Australian achievements

Indeed, many Australians have excelled in many sports since the first Olympics in 1896.

Australia has participated at every Summer Olympics.[28] It has also competed in every Winter Olympics since 1936 with the exception of the 1948 Winter Games.[29] Australians have won 405 Olympic medals at both the Summer and Winter Games. One hundred and twenty four of these have been gold medals.[30]. Many of Australia's medals have been won in swimming and a number of Australian swimmers rank amongst that sport s all time greatest athletes but Australians have excelled in other sports including athletics, cycling, rowing, field hockey and equestrian.[31]

Australia s Olympic success record is in fact disproportionate to its population in Summer Olympics, but this record is not matched in Winter Games.[32] Harry Gordon, the official historian of the Australian Olympic Committee, considers that this is to some degree an understandable consequence of all those clich s about a sunburnt country, a place of endless summers and beaches, and a very parched outback .[33] But despite this perception, as Gordon points out, there is a rich tradition of winter sports in Australia which the Olympic Winter Institute (OWI) of Australia is determined to develop in partnership with the Australian Institute of Sport with the aim of improving Australia s success at future Winter Games.[34]

Brief historical synopsis of the Games

The IOC chose Athens as the site of the first modern Olympics, which were held in 1896. Around 300 male athletes from 15 countries competed in 43 events in nine sports.[35]

Prior to World War I, the fledgling Olympic Movement struggled. Attendances at Games which were held every four years were low. Events were poorly organised with athletes sometimes having to prepare their own competition space or to make do with the inadequate facilities supplied.[36] An extra Olympics (known as the inculcated Games, an event not officially recognised by the IOC) was even held to improve the profile of the Games. Ironically, however, it was controversies like those which surrounded the 1904 and 1908 marathon races that first helped to increase the Games popularity.[37]

The reputation of the Games grew in the period between the world wars, with the 1932 Games providing a successful respite during the Great Depression from the otherwise dire circumstances many people faced.[38] During this period, many of the now traditional Games symbols, such as the Olympic village and the Olympic oath appeared.

The First Modern Olympics: Some 1896 Facts

  • The majority of contestants were Greek.
  • There were no eligibility criteria for competition.
  • Most contestants paid their own way to Greece.
  • James Connolly of the United States won the first Olympic gold in the triple jump.[39]
  • The United States track and field team competing as unofficial representatives won nine out of 12 events.
  • There were no gold medals awarded at the first Olympics. Winners of events won silver medals and an olive wreath. Second placegetters won a bronze medal. There were no medals for third. Medals for the first three places in an event were awarded from 1908.
  • The marathon was run to honour the legendary run by Pheidippides in 490BC.[40]
  • Athletes from different nations competed on the same teams in five sports.

Spectators at the many Games between the Wars witnessed what have become legendary performances. These include the achievements of Johnny Weissmuller[41] and Harold Abrahams and Eric Liddell[42] at the 1924 Games in Paris and the feats of Jesse Owens in Berlin in 1936 when the African American defied the theories of white racial superiority propounded by Adolf Hitler s Nazi regime.[43]

An International Winter Sports Week held in Chamonix in France in 1924, was recognised retrospectively as the first Winter Olympics. Men and women from 16 countries competed in the Games and the Scandinavian countries dominated the early winter competitions.[44] The performances of Norway s Sonja Henie in the 1932 Winter Games in Lake Placid in America were also to become the stuff of Olympic legend.[45]

Games were scheduled during the First and Second World Wars but were cancelled because of these conflicts that an Olympic truce for the duration of the Games, as had occurred during the ancient Games was not considered is no doubt an indication of the ferocity and all encompassing nature of these conflicts. The first Games held after the 1939 1945 conflict in particular reflected the austerity of the times.[46]

Games from the 1950s through to the beginning of the 1990s often mirrored Cold War conflicts and world political tensions. The 1972 Summer Games in Munich, in what was then West Germany, are particularly remembered for the massacre of athletes which was linked to conflicts in the Middle East.[47] The Moscow Games in 1980 and the Los Angeles Games in 1984 are also notable for the boycotts that accompanied them.[48]

The Games have been subject to much criticism in recent times as the result of various scandals and accusations of extreme commercialism (see discussion in Part 3). One of the most controversial incidents surrounded the Winter Olympics held in Salt Lake City in America in 2002 when allegations were levelled that IOC members had earlier been bribed in the city selection vote.[49] As a result, some IOC members were forced to resign and others were severely censured.[50] In the aftermath of the controversy however, attempts were made to create greater accountability in the Games bid process. Guidelines were put in place and greater scrutiny introduced.

In 2004, the Games returned to Athens where, in contrast to their humble beginnings in 1896, they were regarded by many as the most important global sporting event. More than 10 000 athletes, both men and women, from 202 countries competed in 28 sports at the Athens Olympics.[51]

The Olympic Games in Australia

Australia has hosted the only two Olympics to be held in the Southern Hemisphere. Both the 1956 Games in Melbourne and the Sydney 2000 Games were successful events in terms of competition outcomes for Australian athletes and as vehicles promoting Australia to the world.

Melbourne 1956

Nine cities, including six American cities, bid for the 1956 Games. In presenting its Games bid, Melbourne stressed that Australia had participated in every summer Olympics since 1896 and that despite the Olympic Movement supposedly representing the five continents , the Games had been held only in Europe and North America. In the final ballot these arguments proved convincing and Melbourne won from Buenos Aires but only by one vote.

While eventually the main venue for the Games was the Melbourne Cricket Ground, initially the Melbourne Cricket Club was reluctant to make the ground available for Olympic competition. After some persuasion, the cricket club agreed, the ground was upgraded to accommodate 110 000 people and a new Olympic Stand erected.

Melbourne introduced a new concept for Olympic village accommodation, replacing dormitories with separate houses that were later used as public housing. The Commonwealth Government provided an interest-free loan to enable this construction.[52]

Because of Australian quarantine laws concerning horses, the equestrian events for the Melbourne Games were staged separately in Stockholm. This is the only time in the history of the modern Games that unity of time and place for competition, as stipulated in the Olympic Charter, has not been observed.[53]

The simple Opening Ceremony of the Melbourne Games was in contrast to the more elaborate events of recent times. The highlight of the ceremony was the lighting of the Olympic cauldron by Ron Clarke, whose identity had been a well-kept secret.

Australian athletes had more success at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics than at any previous Games. A team of 314 athletes won 35 medals 13 gold, eight silver and 14 bronze.[54] This was the third highest medal tally behind the Soviet Union and the United States of America.[55]

The first informal closing ceremony to be staged at an Olympics was held in Melbourne. This ceremony was not planned, but was adopted following a suggestion that the athletes should mingle together as one team at the end of the Games; competitors no longer separated by nation, war or politics. Perhaps the institution of this ceremony could be categorised as one of the greatest of the achievements of the Melbourne Games and one of the great Olympic moments which truly reflects the spirit of Olympism people united through sport and respect for human achievements.

Because they largely represented an oasis of cooperation during a period of intense international tension (see Part 3 for discussion), the Melbourne Games were labelled the Friendly Games , and they left a number of legacies for Australians.[56] Firstly, they raised Australia s and Melbourne s international profiles. They also helped legitimise the introduction of television into a conservative, anglophile Australia. Prior to the Games, many Australians considered the box American, and therefore not quite respectable. In addition, sports construction works undertaken for the Games improved access to facilities for both amateur and professional sports participants and for sports fans. Similar legacies have been left by all Olympics since World War II excellent sporting facilities and venues for the masses.

Ron Clarke carries the Olympic Torch into the Melbourne Cricket Ground

Source: Public Record Office of Victoria.[57]

Sydney 2000

In the last few years, environmental sensitivity has become an important aspect of the Games. The response of Sydney to this issue helped to make the 2000 Games what IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch declared were the best Games ever.[58]

Sydney s bid for the Games emphasised the success of the Melbourne Games in 1956 and built on the experience gained from unsuccessful bids Brisbane and Melbourne had made for the 1992 and 1996 Games. The Sydney community and media strongly supported the Games and the Games bid emphasised the friendliness of the host city and the safety of the venues for athletes. Promotion material for the bid emphasised providing the right facilities in the context of the environmentally sensitive nature of the Games facilities.

The largest ever Australian team of 632 athletes was led into the Olympic stadium at Homebush by five-time Olympian and Australian basketball captain, Andrew Gaze. Swimming hero Ian Thorpe carried the flag at the closing ceremony.

The shores of Homebush Bay had variously been the site for the city s abattoirs, brickworks and the Royal Australian Navy s armaments depot. Its waterways had been previously used as landfill for chemical and household waste. Over US$80 million was spent on transforming the site to host the 2000 Olympics.

Five key environmental areas were targeted in planning the transformation water conservation, waste avoidance and minimisation, pollution avoidance and the protection of significant natural and cultural environments. Venues were designed to be energy efficient to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and rainwater was captured for use at locations such as the main stadium. Innovative recycling of waste was also a feature and included the use of biodegradable plates and cutlery. Electric and solar powered buggies and natural gas buses were used at the Olympic site and a new rail link was created to encourage spectators to opt to travel on public transport as part of their Games experience. The Millennium Parklands, a 420 hectares wetland, was created as part of the transformation of the site.

Olympic mascot Sydney

Source: Powerhouse Museum.[59]

The athletes village (the world s largest solar suburb in 2000), was powered with solar electricity and hot water and solar panels were incorporated in the design of the main Olympic stadium, the International Regatta Centre and the SuperDome. The Federal Government contributed $58 million to rehabilitate the site occupied by the village as well as financial support for numerous community environment projects around Olympic sites. These included $180 000 to help reduce the impact of stormwater pollution on Sydney Harbour for Olympic sailing events.[60]

The environmental credentials of the 2000 Games were not without their critics. Australian academic Sharon Beder for one considered the Games clean up had merely hidden problems.[61] Beder was convinced in fact that a cocktail of carcinogenic toxins, asbestos, heavy metals and pesticides remained buried under the surface of the Olympic site.[62]

Australian athletes again excelled on their home soil winning 58 medals, 16 of them gold. The outstanding Australian performance was by Ian Thorpe who won three gold medals and one silver medal.[63] Other notable achievements included those of Michael Diamond who successfully defended the gold he won in shooting at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics;[64] the four member equestrian team, consisting of Andrew Hoy, Matt Ryan, Phillip Dutton and Stewart Tinney, who won gold for the third successive time in the team three-day event;[65] the Australian women's hockey team, the Hockeyroos[66] and Cathy Freeman, whose win in the 400 metre race is seen as the individual achievement of the Games by many Australians.[67]

Tent Embassy at the Sydney Games

During the Sydney Olympics in 2000 Aboriginal people set up a Tent Embassy similar to the one which has stood in Canberra since 1972, to protest their treatment by white Australia.

This small, but peaceful protest brought the issue of Aboriginal welfare and rights to the attention of the many international journalists visiting Sydney for the Games when authorities attempted to declare the makeshift embassy illegal. Authorities were forced to back down however, and allow the embassy to remain during the Games period.

Some critics of the Games argue this protest was futile because the Sydney Games organisers were able to manipulate Aboriginal culture in the promotion of the Games, packaging it as a celebrated component of a larger Australianness . Thereby, concealing the plight of Aboriginal people.[68] One argues in fact that the Sydney Tent Embassy victory became a counterproductive protest as international visitors saw the existence of the embassy as evidence that human rights for Aboriginal people, including the right to peaceful protest, were not under threat during the Olympics .[69]


The Paralympics grew from competitions that were first held for service veterans who had suffered spinal cord injuries during World War II. The first Summer Paralympics was held in Rome in 1960 and the first Winter Paralympics in Toronto in 1976.

The 1960 Rome Games were initially known as the 9th Annual International Stoke Mandeville Games, the term Paralympics was only approved by the IOC in 1984.[70]

The number of athletes participating in Summer Paralympics Games has increased from 400 athletes from 23 countries in Rome in 1960 to 3806 athletes from 136 countries at the most recent Games held in Athens in 2004. Paralympics sports include athletics, swimming, wheelchair rugby and alpine skiing.[71] Athletes from six disability groups have traditionally competed.[72]

The Paralympics Games are held in the same year as the Olympic Games. Since the 1988 Seoul Summer Paralympics and the 1992 Albertville Winter Paralympics, these Games have taken place at the same venues as the Olympics. From the 2012 bid process onwards, however, it will be compulsory that this occurs and the city chosen to host the Olympic Games will be obliged to host the Paralympics.

The Paralympics has largely been free of controversy. However, in Sydney in 2000, the Spanish intellectually disabled basketball team was stripped of its medals after an investigation proved only two out of the 12 players suffered from a mental disability. There was suggestion also that the Spanish were not the only team to cheat in this manner.[73]

As a result, the International Paralympics Committee decided to exclude athletes with learning disabilities from the Paralympics until a reliable system to determine eligibility could be introduced.[74] Athletes with learning disabilities continue to compete in the Special Olympics. This event does not emphasise elite competition, but principally promotes sport as a means to improve enjoyment and challenge through participation.[75]

Australian athletes have consistently excelled at the Paralympics.[76] In Sydney in 2000, the Australian Paralympics team topped the medal count with 149 medals including 63 gold. In Athens in 2004, the team won 100 medals and ranked fifth in the medal count.

Part 2: Administration and symbols[77]

The Summer Games are held during the summer season of the host city, usually between July and October, and competition can last for no more than 16 days. Since 1924, the International Olympic Committee has decided which sports are eligible for inclusion in Summer and Winter Olympic competitions. The Centennial Olympic Congress, held in Paris in 1994, recommended that the principal criteria for inclusion in the Olympic Program should be the universality and popularity of a sport.[78]

A sport must be played in at least 75 countries on four continents before it can be considered for men's competition and in 40 countries on three continents to be eligible for the women s competition.[79] Only sports that do not depend primarily on mechanical propulsion are eligible as Olympic sports.[80]

The Winter Games are usually held in February. Sports must be played in 25 countries on three continents to be considered eligible for the Winter Games. The term Olympiad does not apply to the Winter Games.

Since 1992, the Winter and Summer Games are no longer held in the same calendar year. Winter Games were scheduled for 1994, after only a two-year interval, and have been held every four years thereafter. The Summer Games scheduled for 1996 were held in that year and have continued every four years thereafter.[81]

The IOC originally planned that the same country would host both the Summer and Winter Games of each Olympiad. However, almost immediately it was recognised that this would be impossible to realise in many cases. For example, there were no skiing facilities in the Netherlands, the host country for the 1928 Summer Olympics, so the Winter Olympics were held in St. Moritz in Switzerland.

The United States has hosted the most number of Summer and Winter Olympics. London is the city that will have hosted the most number of Games when the 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony takes place. Russia will host the Winter Games for the first time in 2014.[82] The United States has won the most Summer Olympic medals and the Soviet Union the most Winter medals. Australia ranks tenth on the list of medal winning countries overall.[83]

The International Olympic Committee

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is the governing body of the Olympic Games. It approves the sports and events to be included in the Games and also selects the host cities for the Summer and Winter Games.


The original IOC consisted of 14 members. Currently, there are 111 members who were elected at the Turin Winter Games in 2006. Membership of the IOC is limited to resident citizens of countries which have National Olympic Committees. Members must speak either French or English. New members are elected by the existing membership and originally they were elected for life, but a retirement age was imposed in 1995. Members elected in 1999 or later must now retire the year they turn 70. Presidents of the IOC are initially elected for an eight year term and then for succeeding four year terms.[84]

Members represent the IOC in their home countries, but they are not the delegates of particular countries to the IOC. There are no rules setting the size of the IOC or what countries should be represented.


Although the IOC oversees the Olympics, it does not actually organise individual Games. The responsibility for operating the competitions themselves lies with the international federations for each sport. For example, the Federation Internationale de Natation (FINA) conducts swimming events. Host cities are responsible for security, housing of athletes and the creation and operation of sports facilities.

Members of the IOC are prohibited from accepting instructions on voting from any government or other group or individual. Prior to the Salt Lake City Winter Games in 2002 it was discovered that certain IOC members had violated this code and traded their votes for money and favours from potential host cities.[85] The IOC responded to these findings with a series of reforms, including restrictions on IOC members visits to host cities and the addition of active athletes to the Committee.[86]

Following the election of a Games host city, an IOC Coordination Commission provides financial and other support to the city.

The IOC is also responsible for inviting National Olympic Committees to participate in the Games.

IOC Commissions

There are a number of specialised IOC Commissions which are established by the IOC President. These include the Athletes Commission and the Program Commission.

The Athletes Commission is composed of active and retired athletes. It meets annually to make recommendations to the IOC and works in liaison with the Organising Committees of Olympic Games to ensure that the needs of athletes are met at each event.

The Olympic Programme Commission is responsible for reviewing and analysing the programme of sports, disciplines and events and also the number of athletes to be allowed to compete in each sport for the Summer and Winter Games.[87]

National Olympic Committees

Every country or territory competing in the Olympic Games is represented by a National Olympic Committee. There are currently 205 national Olympic committees. This is more than the 192 nation membership of the United Nations as the IOC recognises certain independent territories, commonwealths, protectorates and geographical areas.[88]

National Olympic Committees are responsible for selecting teams to participate in the Olympics, in many cases through selection trials, for providing uniforms and equipment and for transporting teams to the Games.

As potential hosts of the Games, National Olympic Committees submit the names of cities to the IOC for consideration.

Australian Olympic Committee

The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) is a non profit, non government organisation that comprises 41 member organisations, each of which represents sports on the Summer and Winter Olympic Programs. The AOC receives funding support from sponsors and from the Australian Olympic Foundation.[89]

Direct government funding for the AOC comes from donations to the Olympic team appeal.[90] The AOC is also the beneficiary of indirect government funding support, which the Australian Government provides to the Australian Sport Commission (ASC) for elite athlete development programs. Prior to the Montreal Games in Canada in 1976, Australian government funding for sports had traditionally been minimal.[91] Australia s dismal performance in Canada however, led to changed approaches to the funding for sports and the establishment of a statutory body, the Australian Institute of Sport, (AIS) in 1981. The AIS is managed by the ASC.[92] One of the aims of the AIS has been to provide resources, services and facilities to enable Australians to pursue and achieve excellence in sport.[93] Successful Olympians such as Michael Klim, Alisa Camplin and Lauren Jackson were graduates of AIS programs.[94] In 2006 07 the Institute received over $193 million in funding.[95]

Athletes eligibility

To be eligible for participation in the Olympic Games, athletes need to comply with the Olympic Charter and the rules of the International Sports Federation as approved by the IOC. Competitors have to be entered into the Olympics by National Olympic Committees, but the regulatory bodies of sports set eligibility criteria for Olympic qualification.[96]

Competitors are expected to respect the spirit of fair play and non violence and to behave accordingly on the sports field. They are also expected to refrain from using prohibited substances and procedures.[97]

Wildcard provisions

There are "wildcard" entry provisions for Olympic competition for countries that do not meet the Games eligibility criteria. In addition, nations that fail to qualify in any sport are allowed to enter up to two men and two women in track and field or swimming events. However, if a nation receives a wildcard entry in another sport, that entry is subtracted from its quota.

An Equatorial Wildcard : Eric the Eel. Eric the Eel Moussambani, a swimmer from Equatorial Guinea, was able to compete in the Sydney Olympics through a wild card entry.[98] Moussambani took up swimming only eight months before the 2000 Games. Before competing, he had not seen a 50 metre pool. In Moussambani s event, Dutch swimmer Pieter van den Hoogenband set a world record of 47.84 seconds in the 100 metre final to win the gold medal, while Moussambani took nearly two minutes to swim the distance.[99]

As Olympic team sports are limited to between eight and sixteen teams per sport, national teams must win or place high in qualifying tournaments to make the final competition. The host country is automatically entitled to enter a team in every team event.

World Olympians Association

The World Olympians Association (WOA) is an independent body set up by the IOC President in 1994 following the Centennial Olympic Congress. Australian Peter Montgomery was the inaugural President of the Association.[100]

The WOA aims to promote the development of better relations between Olympic athletes in order to spread Olympic ideals and encourage the establishment of national associations of Olympic athletes.

The mission of the World Olympians Association is to unite the nearly 100 000 Olympians around the world and involve them in the activities of the Olympic Movement.[101] There are Olympians clubs in all states in Australia and the Australian Capital Territory. In 2000, an Australian Olympians club was also formed.

Symbols of the Games

The Olympic Rings

The Olympic rings, designed by Pierre de Coubertin in 1913, are the official symbol of the Olympic Movement. The five interlacing rings of blue, yellow, black, green, and red set on a white background represent the meeting of athletes from the Americas, Africa, Asia, Oceania and Europe at the Olympic Games.

While there is general agreement that the rings represent different continents, there is some dispute about whether any of the continents are in turn represented by one of the five ring colours. It is mostly thought that the colours of the symbol were chosen because at least one is found in the flag of every nation.[102]

The original flag depicting the rings first flew over an Olympic stadium at the 1920 Antwerp Games in Belgium. The Antwerp Flag is now on display at the Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland.[103]

Olympic Medals

The top three finishers in each Olympic event receive a medal and a diploma. The next five finishers receive a diploma. Each first place winner receives a gold medal, second place a medal made of silver and third place a medal made of bronze.

Olympic gold medals were only made of gold until 1912. Currently, gold medals are actually made of silver, which must be coated in at least six grams of pure gold. The silver used must be at least 92.5 per cent pure.

Medals carry the name of the sport contested.

All members of a winning relay team receive a medal, including those who participated only in qualifying rounds. In team sports, all the members of a winning team who have played in at least one competition game receive a medal.

The front side of medals awarded at the Summer Games feature an image of an Hellenic goddess holding a laurel wreath with the Athens Colosseum in the background. Since 1972, local Olympic organising committees have been allowed to create a design for the back of the medals. The medals given at the Winter Games are designed by the organizing committee of the Games, but must be approved by the IOC. 

The IOC awards commemorative pins to each athlete who participates in the Olympic Games.[104]

Olympic mascots

Olympic mascots promote the history and culture of Olympic host cities. They help to communicate the Olympic spirit to the public, especially to children.[105] The first Olympic mascot, Waldi, the dachshund, appeared at the 1972 Games in Munich.

Lizzie the frill neck lizard mascot

Source: International Paralympic Committee website. [106]

The Olympic Flame and Torch

During all ancient Olympics, a sacred flame burned continually on the altar of the goddess Hera, but a modern Olympic flame was not introduced until the 1928 Amsterdam Games in the Netherlands.[107] A Torch Relay which culminates in the lighting of the cauldron from the Olympic flame at the Opening Ceremony of each Games was introduced to symbolise a link between the ancient and modern Games. The Relay was first run at the 1936 Games when the flame was carried from Olympia to Berlin. The first relay of the Olympic Winter Games was organised for the 1952 Oslo Games.[108]

Flame Facts

  • The first torch relay in 1936 travelled 3000 miles from Greece through seven European countries to Berlin.
  • The first runner in the 1948 relay, a corporal in the Greek army, removed his military uniform before accepting the Flame in a gesture that commemorated the Olympic sacred truce observed in Ancient Greece.
  • In 1968, the Olympic torch relay traced the steps of Columbus from Spain to the New World.
  • In 1976, the Olympic flame was electronically transmitted from Athens to Ottawa by satellite. Runners then transported the flame to Montreal. A few days after the flame was lit a rainstorm extinguished it momentarily. An official with a cigarette lighter was quickly able to rekindle the flame, but it was considered impure and another flame was brought from Olympia to replace it.
  • The Flame was carried underwater on the Great Barrier Reef on its way to Sydney in 2000.
  • The Athens Olympic Torch Relay visited every city that had hosted the Olympic Games (34 cities in 27 countries). For the first time in history, the torch relay crossed the five continents represented in the Olympic rings.
  • The Olympic flame will be transported to the summit of Mt. Qomolangma (Mt Everest) as part of the Beijing Torch relay. As this may take up to three months because of weather conditions in Tibet, elaborate arrangements have been made to ensure the Flame survives the ascent.[109]

Back to top

Part 3: Olympic Issues


In the past, Olympic rules about amateurism were responsible for many controversies, some minor, some more influential; some which involved individual athletes and some which raised the ire of whole countries.

Most commentators conclude that athletes competed at the ancient Olympics principally for honour because the only prizes awarded were olive wreaths. But there is some disagreement on this point, with an opposing argument that:

the prestige attending victory in [the ancient Games] often produced more practical benefits, such as free meals for life at public expense, gifts from the city, and exemptions from taxes and civic duties: rewards as profitable as today's endorsement contracts for Olympic victors.[110]

This professional aspect of ancient competition was ignored however, when the Games were revived by Baron de Coubertin. Most likely because the idea of an amateur athlete, who competed for honour, not remuneration, fitted better with late nineteenth century thinking about appropriate roles for the social classes. This notion contended that only the wealthy could (and should) afford to devote their lives to the pursuit of sport. In addition, it was thought that professional athletes who sought financial gain from sport would not adhere to ideals of fair play. More critical commentators argue that the idea of amateurism worked for many years to the disadvantage of people who were not white men and members of well-to-do social classes in Western societies .[111] In other words, that amateurism was a synonym for racism, sexism and class discrimination.

There was less enthusiasm for the enforcement of amateurism in sport generally, however, as social classes became less defined (at least in Western countries) and leisure time increasingly more available to all people. At the same time, the development of commercialism, which increasingly became attached to sporting events, further undermined amateurism, as did the development of state sponsored scholarships and training.[112] Combined with payments for endorsements this meant that athletes in fact became de facto professionals as the twentieth century progressed.[113]

Avery Brundage s campaigns

Avery Brundage, a former American athlete, was President of the IOC from 1952 to 1972.[114] He was a tireless campaigner against professionals in Olympic competition.[115] It was only after he retired as President that the attitude of the IOC towards professionals began to change.

Brundage particularly targeted the Winter Olympics in his crusade. At the Winter Games in Grenoble in France in 1968, for example, he campaigned against what he considered was an illegitimate commercialism in sponsorship of athletes. He particularly targeted Jean Claude Killy, labelling the French skier the most blatant exponent of this practice as Killy allowed company trademarks to be shown in his promotional photographs in exchange for payment.[116]

Brundage intensified his campaign against commercialism in the Olympics in Sapporo in Japan in 1972, threatening to disqualify 40 skiers for being professional competitors. However, only one, Austrian Karl Schranz, who reportedly earned over (US) $50 000 annually testing ski equipment, was eventually disqualified.[117]

Amateur status was a contentious issue during the Cold War (1945 1991). State sponsored athletes from the Soviet Union and its allies who trained full time, but were not officially employed as athletes, were eligible to compete as amateurs. On the other hand, many American athletes were labelled professionals, and consequently, ineligible to compete because their acknowledged work was playing sport. The United States argued consistently that such anomalies made status eligibility requirements for Olympic competition unfair.

Recognition that this type of situation was becoming increasingly the norm led to gradual removal of the amateur status criterion for Olympic competition. Actual reference to the word amateur was deleted from the Olympic Charter by the 1970s. International federations governing individual Olympic sports were given responsibility for determining Olympic eligibility following the 1981 IOC Congress. Since then, federations have modified their rules to allow professionals to compete in the Games.

The initial entry of professionals into Olympic competition generated some concern and much publicity in the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona when the United States professional basketball Dream Team , which included Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan, easily won the gold medal. But the protest was short lived and professionals now compete in almost every Olympic sport.[118] Boxing is one of the few sports where professionals are restricted or ineligible for competition.[119] This restriction is more likely the result of debate about differing objectives of amateur and professional boxing, rather than about the issue of competitor status.[120]

Nevertheless, debate continues about amateurism in sport generally, with some believing that professionalism per ses compromises an athlete s love for sport.[121] It can be argued that admitting professional athletes simply compounds the advantage richer nations have in developing athletes, or the commercial nature of Olympic competition. Perhaps it also denies young, developing athletes the chance to compete and it deprives spectators of some inspiring victories.[122] On the other hand, if the Olympics are to remain a venue for the world s best athletes to compete, it is difficult to see how professional athletes could be excluded from at least some sports; and inspiring performances are not solely the prerogative of amateurs.


Pierre de Coubertin envisioned that the Olympic Games would always remain an international gathering of amateur athletes who competed only for the love of sport. However, while this continues to be one of the reasons most athletes who participate in the Olympics continue to compete, sport now also represents a career choice. The Games also involve large amounts of money and an intimate association with commercial enterprise.

For most of the twentieth century, the IOC was a small, volunteer organisation that reflected its commitment to amateurism. But following World War II and rapid development of the mass media and communications technology, the philosophy of the IOC began to change. It seized the opportunity to avail itself of these advances with the stated intention of subsidising expenses associated with hosting the Games and its other activities.

The Summer Games held in Rome in 1960 were the first to be covered on broadcast television. Many of the events were shown throughout Europe and the American broadcast company CBS paid US$394 000 for the American broadcast rights. At the time there was no way to broadcast across the Atlantic, so CBS took the innovative step of flying tapes of events to New York City daily.[123]

In 1960, the IOC sold the broadcasting rights to the Squaw Valley Winter Games in the United States to several companies. These included the European Broadcasting Union, which paid US$660 000 to broadcast the Games to Europe. Since 1960, broadcasting fees have escalated, with the American network NBC paying US$2.2 billion for the rights to broadcast the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games and the 2012 Summer Games in London.[124]

By the 1970s, most of the IOC s revenue was derived from American broadcasting rights. At that time, the Committee sought to diversify marketing of the Games to attract international organisations in addition to broadcasters. To this end, in 1985, it established The Olympic Partner Program (TOP). Under this program, corporations pay millions of dollars for exclusive worldwide marketing rights to both the Summer and Winter Games over a four-year period.

BBC view: A clash between the Olympic ideal and sponsorship

Source: BBC News.[125]

By 1992, TOP contracts had produced revenue of more than US$120 million for the IOC. Everything appeared to be sponsorable , with the 1984 Los Angeles Games even selling rights for one company to advertise itself as the Official Olympic Specimen Carrier, because it transported the urine samples of athletes to laboratories.[126]

Between 2001 and 2004, TOP was supported by Coca-Cola, Atos Origin, John Hancock, Kodak, McDonald s, Panasonic, Samsung, Sports Illustrated, Swatch, Visa International, and Xerox. The program was worth US$604 million to the IOC.

While TOP revenue continues to increase, it is yet to equal the income the IOC derives from the sale of broadcasting rights to the Games, as the diagram below and a later table on broadcasting revenue included in this section, show. The Athens 2004 broadcast generated more than US$1492 million. More than 300 television channels provided a total of 44 000 hours of dedicated Olympics coverage, accessible to 4.2 billion viewers in 220 countries and territories.[127]

Olympic marketing revenues

Source: IOC Final Report 2001-2004.[128]

Such close association of the Olympic Games with commercial entities has brought criticism of the IOC. It is argued that the embrace of commercialism by the Olympic Movement has seriously compromised its principles and left it susceptible to the wishes of commercial enterprises. From this perspective one critic notes that:

Companies and products benefit from association with the Olympics, which have an aura of both virtue and excellence. The [G]ames are one of the greatest media events on earth, with television broadcasting to billions of people, a marketeer's dream. As a result, companies line up for Olympic sponsorship.[129]

The same critic argues that the IOC:

has abdicated any moral role in relation to corporate sponsorship. Whether running shoes are made by Third World workers in horrible conditions at low pay or whether a drink is of nutritional value is of little concern to the IOC, except for possible bad publicity.[130]

Olympic marketing revenue contributions to NOCs

Source: IOC Marketing Report.[131]

Another critic adds that the numbers attending the Turin Games illustrate the influence of commercialism 2500 athletes, 10 000 sponsor s guests, 2300 Olympic officials and 2700 NBC staff, as well as other media, volunteers and other officials. In all, a ratio of 20 to one credentialed officials to athletes.[132]

On the other hand, it can be argued that the increased wealth the IOC has achieved through sponsorship has given the Olympic Movement opportunity to expand the nature and reach of its activities for the benefit of athletes as the table on revenue contributions to NOCs in this section would suggest. For example, it has introduced Olympic Solidarity, a program to spread the ideals of the Olympic Movement throughout the world. Olympic Solidarity offers scholarships, sports education programs, and direct financial aid to various national Olympic committees, especially those in developing countries.[133]

Olympic Broadcast Revenue Summer Games
Olympic Broadcast Revenue Summer Games

Source: Global Marketing Revenue, IOC website.[134]

The IOC notes:

The money that the IOC receives from broadcast and marketing rights is distributed throughout the Olympic Family. It goes to aid cities hosting the Olympic Games, to assist sportsmen and women to prepare for those Games through the 202 National Olympic Committees (NOCs) and to help the International Federations (IFs) promote and develop the activities for which they have responsibility. Less than 10 per cent of the revenue remains with the IOC for the costs of administration.[135]

Even critics agree that:

It's naive and soreheaded [sic] to decry all commercialism, or the television networks that carry the Games. Sponsors help fund the athletes' training, and make it possible for the Games to be held, and NBC's love affair with the event is genuine.[136]

While IOC marketing reports corroborate the conclusion that there are more positive outcomes for athletes to be gained from encouraging sponsorship of the Games, there are examples that illustrate there is a constant need to balance the interests of athletes with those of commercial interests.[137] One recent illustration of this point is the changing of swimming finals times for the Beijing Olympics from evening to morning to ensure the best possible broadcasting ratings in the United States.

The European Broadcasting Union protested that European audiences will be watching swimming finals in the wee hours of the morning and a number of leading swimmers requested re consideration of the finals schedule noting:

We understand that there are certain commercial advantages to the American market But we appeal to the integrity of our sport and the integrity of the Olympic spirit to hold the Games as is, in the best interest of the athletes.[138]

To no avail, for as one commentator realistically observed:

Protest if you must about the selling out of the Olympics, but the process began long ago. The truth is that $5.7 billion [referring to the fee reportedly paid to American broadcaster NBC for the right to broadcast seven Olympics] really should buy you a little clout and a little [broadcast] time.


The use of substances to improve athletic performance is not new. Historic writings refer to competitors ingesting various potions, such as ground horse hooves or sheep testicles, to improve their performances at the ancient Olympic Games and other sporting events.[139] Athletes in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries also used caffeine and strychnine to enhance their sporting prowess.[140]

The first official ban on substances to stimulate performance by a sporting organisation was introduced by the International Amateur Athletic Federation in 1928.[141] Drugs did not become an Olympic issue, however, until a Danish cyclist died of drug-related complications during the 1960 Olympic Games.[142] This incident prompted the IOC set up a medical commission and to issue its first list of prohibited drugs.[143]

Since 1968, the IOC has tested athletes for steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs.[144] But rapid advances in medical technology in recent decades have produced a wide variety of new drugs and procedures that athletes can use to gain a performance advantage. Consequently, many athletes disregard warnings and the growing body of evidence that confirms the serious health risks associated with drug taking.

In February 1999, the IOC convened a World Conference on Doping in Sport. One outcome of the conference was the creation of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), which is co-funded by the IOC and member governments.[145]

Athletes and drugs - Ben Johnson

Ben Johnson from Canada was the first well known athlete to test positive for drugs. He set a world record in winning the 100 metre dash at the Seoul Olympics but later tested positive for steroids and was banned from competition for two years.

In 1993, after Johnson again tested positive for drugs, the International Association of Athletics Federations banned him from competition for life.[146]

In March 2003, at the Second World Conference on Doping in Sport, delegates from 80 governments, the IOC, the International Paralympics Committee, all Olympic sports, national Olympic and Paralympics committees, athletes, national anti-doping organisations, and international agencies unanimously agreed to adopt the World Anti-Doping Code. The Code applies to all athletes and all those who work with them in their preparation for, or participation in Olympic competition. All National Olympic Committees and International Sports Federations are obliged to sign the World Anti-Doping Code.[147] WADA reviews and publishes a list of prohibited drugs annually.[148]

A zero tolerance anti doping policy adopted by WADA has involved an increase in the number of tests conducted during the Games, as well as an extension of the associated period in which athletes can be tested for drugs. Consequently, during the course of each Games, hundreds of athletes now undergo drug testing for performance-enhancing substances. Usually, the top four place getters in each event as well as a number of other randomly-selected athletes are required to provide post-competition urine samples for testing. In some sports, blood samples are also tested. Athletes found guilty of doping in a post-event test forfeit any Olympic medals or diplomas they have won in that event.

In the Salt Lake City Games in 2002, there were seven violations of anti-doping rules, which is more than the five cases detected at all previous Winter Games. At the 2004 Summer Games in Athens, 2926 urine and 741 blood tests were conducted. This was 25 per cent more tests conducted than in Sydney. Testing found 26 violations of anti-doping rules, compared to 11 found in Sydney.[149]

One critic of WADA claims that despite the rhetoric about solving the problems of drugs in sport about 85 per cent of all competing nations at the Olympics do not even bother with drug testing, thus offering plenty of places for the cheats to hide .[150] Therefore, in this critic s view, WADA needs to develop and oversee a more comprehensive and stringent regime and to be funded better, not only to counter existing drugs, but also to address new issues such as genetic doping.[151]

It may be possible that former New South Wales Premier and former federal Minister for Finance, John Fahey, who was confirmed as President of WADA in November 2007, what some consider as the highest level international sporting appointment ever occupied by an Australian , will make some progress in dealing with these problems.[152] But it is unlikely that Fahey s job will be easy, or that drug taking will cease to be a problem in Olympic competition in the near future.

Contradictory views of performance enhancing drugs

There is, however, a view of the use of drugs in sport that contradicts accepted thinking. This view holds that athletes should be allowed to take non-harmful performance enhancing drugs, as this action fully complies with the perception of sport as a celebration of the human spirit, body, and mind .[153] The argument continues that athletes already take a variety of nutritional and dietary substances and use a variety of equipment to improve performance and so performance enhancing drugs should be similarly accepted.

Athletes and drugs Marion Jones

Marion Jones was the first woman to win five medals in track and field events (three gold and two bronze) at a single Olympics at Sydney in 2000.[154] For a number of years it was alleged she used performance enhancing drugs, but it was not until October 2007 that she admitted to using steroids from September 2000 to July 2001.

Jones admission raised concern that Greek sprinter Katerina Thanou, who had also been suspended after missing doping tests before the 2004 Athens Olympics and who finished second in the 100 metres race, could be awarded the gold medal.[155]

The IOC plans to introduce a rule whereby any athlete suspended more than six months for doping will be banned from the subsequent Olympics. The rule is expected to be in effect for the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver if it receives approval at the IOC general assembly in Beijing.

IOC president Jacques Rogge considered the doping admission by Jones was good for sport because it showed that drug cheats eventually get caught.[156]

One proponent of this perspective maintains that:

Ian Thorpe has enormous feet which give him an advantage that no other swimmer can get, no matter how much they exercise. Some gymnasts are more flexible, and some basketball players are seven feet tall. By allowing everyone to take performance enhancing drugs, we level the playing field. We remove the effects of genetic inequality. Far from being unfair, allowing performance enhancement promotes equality.[157]

There are countervailing arguments to this controversial view. It is difficult to draw lines between legitimate and illegitimate performance enhancement for example. It is also unfair to those athletes who do not wish to enhance their performance with drugs, particularly younger athletes who may not be allowed to make fully informed choices about drug taking.[158]

Performance enhancing technology unfair advantage?

While the issue of technological advantage does not exactly parallel that of performance enhancing drugs, it does raise questions about whether and where the level playing field for competition should be drawn. At the Beijing Games for example, Australian swimmers will be wearing a new type of swim suit which has reportedly assisted them to break world records. Past Australian Olympians such as Murray Rose have condemned the suits arguing that they make contests less even .[159] Rose notes that: In my day all you had to remember was an old swimsuit and a towel and don't even worry about the goggles .[160]

On the other hand, one swimming trainer argues the new swim suits have not been responsible for the record breaking performances; these have been due to superior training methods.[161]

The same argument about technological advances can be applied equally to many other sports, such as cycling and rowing or to athletics generally. In one sport, pole vaulting, it has been noted that at the beginning of the 20th century, athletes were using wooden poles, within a decade, they were using the best nature had to offer, bamboo. In the 1960s fibreglass poles were introduced and now carbon fibre poles are used.[162]

The same motivation applies with the development of technology as with drugs competition. People want to win and so use drugs to enhance performance. People want to win and so use performance enhancing technologies.

Like many other issues surrounding the Olympics this issue is complex.

One commentator notes in comparing performances in equipment and technology reliant and athlete reliant sports that countries that gained medals in track cycling and rowing at the 2004 summer Olympic Games, (top eight countries in order: Australia, Great Britain, Germany, the Netherlands, France, Spain, Russia, and Italy) and those that gained medals in track athletics (top eight countries in order: USA, Russia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Greece, Cuba, Jamaica, Great Britain), the developed world dominates the former list, while a number of developing nations are included in the latter list. While there are physiological and cultural influences on this data, as this commentator concludes, the ability to invest in infrastructure and equipment clearly brings results.[163]

At the same time, advances in sport science have created more opportunities for disabled people to compete at the elite level. For example, at the Paralympics in Sydney, Marlon Shirley from the United States set a new amputee world record for the 100 metre race, using a hi-tech prosthetic leg, made from aluminium and carbon-fibre.


Women first competed at the Olympics which were held as part of the Universal Exposition in Paris in 1900. They were only allowed to compete in two sports tennis and croquet. The first woman gold medallist at these Olympics was British tennis player, Charlotte Cooper.

Women were admitted to the swimming competition by the 1912 Games, but it was not until 1928 that they were permitted to compete in track and field events.[164] This concession was won despite objections from Pierre de Coubertin and the Pope that it was not fitting for women to participate in such competitions. As a result of their admission to athletics events, however, the numbers of women competitors at the Games doubled.[165]

In fighting to gain entry to athletics in the Olympics women had to contend with cultural perceptions about the limitations of the female body and what was appropriate conduct for their gender. Implicit in these arguments was the idea that elite sport could only reflect masculinity; there was no room for female athletic prowess.

Notwithstanding that this and other ideas that sport makes women less attractive and that physical exertion may affect childbearing have been discredited, some residual of the argument that women were too fragile to become athletes, continues to surface occasionally. At times it is couched in accusations that female athleticism equates with so called perverse behaviours, such as the practice of lesbianism.[166]

In 1900, around two per cent of Games competitors were women (22 athletes). In contrast, women competed in 26 of the 28 sports at the Athens Olympics in 2004 and in 135 events or 45 per cent of all events. They represented 40.7 per cent of all participating athletes.

Women remain underrepresented, however, in Olympic sports organisations. It was only in 1981 that the first women were elected as members of the IOC.[167] In 1997, the first woman was elected as an IOC vice-president.[168] In an attempt to combat the problem of under representation, the IOC passed a resolution in 1996 requiring that women made up ten per cent of the decision-making structures of all national Olympic committees by the year 2000 and 20 per cent by the year 2005.

A report on the progress of this strategy released in 2004 noted that the introduction of minimum standards of representation had had a positive impact on the proportion of women on national Olympic committees and had brought a skilled, educated and committed workforce into the Olympic Movement. Despite this situation, it was noted that more work needed to be done at lower sports administration levels to encourage the nomination of women candidates. Additionally, it was conceded that the IOC targets do not take into account variations in society and culture which adversely affect the status of women in some countries.[169]

Race and the Games

Race and racism have played their part in a number of incidents at the Olympics. Some of the manifestations of racism have been obvious, as illustrated by the Berlin Games of 1936, while others have been more subtle.

It has been suggested for instance that Jim Thorpe, who was deprived of his medals for professionalism in 1912, would not have been so treated if he were not an American Indian (see box below).[170]

The Jim Thorpe saga

In Stockholm in Sweden in 1912, Jim Thorpe, an American Indian who won both the pentathlon and decathlon, was stripped of his medals after Olympic officials discovered that, in contravention of Games rules in place at the time, he had played baseball for a small salary prior to his competing in the Games.[171]

It was not until 1982 that Thorpe s medals were returned to his family, perhaps as a result of the change in the IOC s approach to amateurism, but possibly, also as an act of repudiation of any racist overtones that could be associated with the original decision.

The Olympics have been used also as a vehicle to protest racist attitudes and behaviours. Sometimes, as in the case of the exclusion of South Africa from the Games for its policy of apartheid, this has been with the sanction of the IOC. At other times, protests have taken place without IOC knowledge or approval, as illustrated by the case of the Black Power protest of two black athletes at the Mexico Games in 1968.

Berlin 1936

Possibly the most blatant example of the use of the Olympics as a vehicle to promote racist propaganda was the 1936 Games held in Berlin in Germany.[172]

These Games were awarded to Berlin in 1931 before the Nazis came to power in Germany. However, soon after Adolf Hitler became German Chancellor in 1933, questions were raised about restrictions the new regime placed on Jewish athletes. A number of athletes and organisations argued that the Berlin Games should be boycotted because they would be the cause of discrimination on grounds of race. An organised international boycott failed to eventuate, however.[173] The Games went ahead as scheduled after the IOC declared that not only should internal politics of nations not affect Olympic competition, but that in the Berlin instance it was convinced there was no discrimination against Jews in Germany.[174]

Carl Ludwig Lutz Long: A true Olympian

Carl Ludwig ‘Lutz’ Long: A true Olympian

Pictured above, Lutz and Owens at the 1936 Games.

Lutz Long was the archetypical representative of the Aryan race that Hitler wanted to promote at the Berlin Olympics.

Lutz Long was also a true sportsman.

His advice to African American Jesse Owens helped Owens qualify for the long jump in the 1936 Games. Owens went on to win the gold medal in the event. Long came second.

Lutz died in WW II, but was awarded the Pierre de Coubertin medal posthumously for his sportsmanship at the Berlin Games.

Source: Official Website of the Olympic Movement.[175]

Initially, it appeared that the Games would indeed provide Hitler with an opportunity to advance his theory of the racial superiority of the Aryan race to the world when in June 1936, prior to the Olympics competition, undefeated African American professional boxer Joe Louis was knocked out by Germany's Max Schmeling. The German press proclaimed Schmeling's victory as a triumph for Germany and the Aryan race.[176]

But by the end of the Olympics Nazi claims of racial superiority had been seriously diminished by African American Jesse Owens and his African American team mates who had been dubbed the Black Auxiliaries by the Nazi press, to imply they were not fully fledged members of the American team. Owens alone won four medals in athletics and became an instant superstar .[177]

Tokyo 1964

There is some argument that the concept of the Games in itself is racist. This view alleges that because the Games were established by European elites, they are dominated by western sports and western perspectives on sports and so disregard the indigenous sports of non-western countries.[178] A similar perspective of the Games could have been one factor in prompting President Sukarno of Indonesia in February 1962 to announce that his country would withdraw from the IOC and initiate a new world Games in direct competition to the Olympics. Sukarno considered that the new games would combat old imperialistic forces that had discriminated against Asian and African nations in previous sporting competition.

More than 2000 athletes, from countries including France, Italy, the Netherlands and the Soviet Union, took part in Sukarno s first New Emerging Forces Games (GANEFO) in Jakarta in 1963. Most of these athletes were not of Olympic calibre, however, and countries did not send official teams.[179]

Competition by nations other than Indonesia at GANEFO was not sanctioned by the IOC because of a technicality with regards to recognition of the People s Republic of China by some international sporting bodies. So, as a result, athletes from Indonesia and North Korea, who had officially competed at GANEFO, were banned from the Tokyo Games.[180]

Apartheid and the Games

South Africa was colonized by the Dutch in the seventeenth century and later by the English. When it received independence from England in the early twentieth century, there was an uneasy power-sharing between these two groups until the Dutch (Afrikaners) gained a political majority. Apartheid was established as a means to cement Afrikaner control over the economic and social system.

While the enactment of apartheid laws in 1948 institutionalized racial separation, it was not until 1956 that laws were passed to ban inter-racial sport.

There was some disagreement within the IOC about whether South Africa should be barred from Olympic competition as a result of its racial separation policy. Some IOC members defined apartheid as a political issue, which they considered was outside the parameters of Olympic consideration. Despite this disagreement, however, there was no dispute that the South African policy clearly violated the Olympic Charter regarding discrimination on the grounds of race.[181]

In 1964, the IOC barred the South African Olympic Committee from sending athletes to the Summer Games in Tokyo because that committee refused to renounce racial discrimination in sport. South Africa's apartheid policy also led to the imposition of trade sanctions and a ban on cricket and rugby tours during the 1970s and 1980s.[182]

The bar on South Africa competing at the Olympics lasted until 1992 when all apartheid laws had been repealed.

Apartheid was also responsible for the refusal of more than 20 African nations to compete at the 1976 Games in Montreal.[183] These nations had previously demanded that New Zealand was banned from competition because a New Zealand rugby team had toured South Africa. When the IOC refused to ban New Zealand, citing as its reason that rugby was not an Olympic sport, the African nations withdrew from the Games in protest.[184]

Mexico 1968

There are a number of Games issues that have been defined from both a political and race perspective. How such incidents are defined is sometimes dependent on the circumstances in which they take place, as one incident at the Mexico Summer Olympics in 1968 reveals.

Only days before the opening of the Mexico Games a student protest demanding democratic reforms was brutally suppressed by the Mexican Government. The IOC declared that the Games would not be affected as the protest was political action and not a matter to concern the Olympic Movement.[185] These events and the IOC s stance therefore affected an individual protest against racism made by two American athletes during the Games.

The gold and bronze medals in the 200 metre race at the Mexico Games were won by African American sprinters, Tommie Smith and John Carlos. Smith and Carlos, inspired by ideals articulated by the Olympic Project for Human Rights (OPHR) which strove to eliminate injustices faced by African Americans in the United States, resolved to draw attention to the racial inequalities in their country.

They chose the Olympic medal presentation ceremony to do so.[186] During the playing of the American national anthem at the ceremony, both athletes bowed their heads and gave the Black Power salute.[187]

The infamous ‘Black Power’ Salute.

The infamous Black Power Salute. Smith, Carlos and Australian Peter Norman at the Mexico Olympics

Source: Fairfax Digital[188]

The protest was met with outrage. The IOC declared that the act contravened a basic principle of the Olympics that politics should play no role in them and ordered the United States Olympic Committee to suspend both men from their Olympic team. It is ironic that the IOC took this stand against Smith and Carlos, given its actions in relation to institutionalised racial discrimination in South Africa. But given its declaration in response to the protest by Mexican students prior to the Games, it was probably unable to respond in any other way in this instance.

Some organisations consider that the Olympics continue to be used as a vehicle for the racist treatment of citizens in host cities and countries. Following terrorist attacks on New York and Washington D.C. in America in September 2001, for instance, it has been argued that the organisers of the 2004 Athens Olympics unnecessarily subjected a small marginalised Islamic community in Greece to state surveillance of places of worship and unnecessary mass document-checks and inspections on the pretext of combating potential terrorism.[189] It is difficult to evaluate the extent to which this action was racially motivated, however, given that an opposing view of the surveillance is that as a result of the 2001 attacks, security for the Olympics needed to be increased. As such, many people, regardless of their race, were subject to inconveniences to ensure the safety of athletes and spectators alike

Politics and the Games

Despite the IOC s insistence that political considerations play no part in the Games, it can be argued that politics is actually fundamental to the Olympics. An important impetus for the ancient Games was to offset the political machinations of competing and sometimes war-like Greek city states, and in reality, it is difficult to find any modern Games that have not been in some way influenced by politics by wars, protests, terrorist attacks or boycotts. Indeed, as one commentator notes generally: Politics and sport might be uncomfortable bedfellows, but on past experience at least it seems they are inseparable .[190]

One Olympic commentator has noted that the intended focus of the modern Olympics was individual athletes. But the inevitable identification of those athletes with their respective states meant that the feats of individuals are inevitably associated with, and subordinated to the state and politics have become integral to the conduct of the Games.[191]

What this means effectively is that world events are often played out in miniature in the Games arena and that the Games are used as a tool to promote or emphasise particular agendas.

1956: a tale of two invasions

Suez Crisis

In July 1956, Egypt's President Nasser nationalised the Suez Canal which had been owned and operated by a French/British company since 1869 as a neutral waterway and major maritime passage for the global oil trade. After Israel invaded Egypt in response, Britain and France intervened to restore the neutrality of the Canal. In the face of international pressure Britain and France later withdrew and a United Nations peacekeeping force was sent to the area.[192]

As a consequence of this incident, President Nasser called for countries that initiated war to be banned from the Olympics. When the IOC did not comply with Nasser s demands, Egypt, Lebanon and Iraq withdrew from the 1956 Games in protest.[193]

Soviet invasion of Hungary

A revolt against Soviet rule in Hungary coincided with the Suez Crisis. The Soviet Union responded to demands for reform of the political system in Hungary by ruthlessly crushing the uprising.[194]

The events in Hungary led to the withdrawal from the Melbourne Olympics of the Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland. Some nations called for the Games to be cancelled in protest at the Soviet Union s actions, but IOC President Avery Brundage rejected these calls, arguing again the IOC public view that the Games were contests between people, not nations.

Pictured at left: Hungarian Water Polo Forward Ervin Zador with a gashed eye leaving the Olympic pool at the conclusion of the Hungarian/Soviet water polo semi final.

Zador is quoted as saying: We felt we were playing not just for ourselves but for every Hungarian. This game was the only way we could fight back .

Source: Sydney Morning Herald[195]

This sentiment was not shared by the Soviet and Hungarian teams and the conflict manifest itself in the blood in the pool incident in the semi finals of the water polo competition, where the match turned into a mini war. Following the match, which the Hungarians won, the Soviet team had to be escorted from the venue to ensure their safety. The Hungarians eventually won the gold medal.

Most of the Hungarian team, realising they could no longer return to their homeland, defected following the competition.[196]

Cold War Games

Perhaps the most revealing example of the role international politics has played in the Olympics was illustrated by the Games rivalry between the great ideologies of the twentieth century, capitalism and communism.

The Soviet Union expressed little interest in participating in the Olympics before WWII, arguing the Games were an elitist, nationalist opiate .[197] Following WWII, however, and the initiation of the Cold War, there were very few outlets in which the Soviet Union could try to show the benefits of its form of society: sport was one and the space race (later) became another .[198]

While the Soviets did not compete in London in 1948, the Helsinki Games held in 1952 during the Korean War were seen as a proxy extension of the conflict being played out in Asia. So it was that the Soviets saw Helsinki as a test of the strength of communism. The United States on the other hand, intended to counter communist propaganda by excelling on the sports field in Helsinki. East faced West in every aspect of the Games even to the extent that the athletes resided in different Olympic villages.[199] Despite the intensity of competition provoked by this clash of ideology, in the final analysis, neither side could claim a conclusive victory. Academic Alfred Senn considers that that result in itself represented a major Soviet triumph in its first foray into the Olympic arena.[200]

Los Angeles Stadium during the opening of the 1984 Olympics

Los Angeles Stadium during the opening of the 1984 Olympics

Source: Wally McNamee/Corbis.[201]

While the Superpowers rivalry was a constant undercurrent at the Games during the
Cold War, at times it was overtly manifest. For example, after losing to the Soviets in the men s basketball final in the 1972 Munich Olympics, the Americans refused to attend the presentation ceremony and rejected their silver medals. Nearly forty years later, the medals remain uncollected.[202] The Americans in response, in 1980 at the Lake Placid Winter Games won what they labelled the Miracle on Ice when their men s ice hockey team beat the more favoured Soviet team in the lead up to the finals competition game. This victory eventually led to the Americans winning the gold medal.[203].

The spectacular opening and closing ceremonies of the Los Angeles Olympics, combined with the Soviet boycott and the considerable anti-Soviet sentiment that accompanied it, represent perhaps the culmination of the American/Soviet Olympic gamesmanship. The Americans saw the Los Angeles presentation as proof of the superiority of capitalism. By introducing a Hollywood dimension to the Games, they also set a standard for theatrical presentation of opening and closing ceremonies that other countries have since felt compelled to emulate.[204]

While some have suggested that the 1984 Soviet boycott was a petulant reprisal for the American boycott of the Moscow Games, it is more likely that the action was not simply tit for tat . It has been speculated for instance that the Soviets believed they could influence American politics through their actions by hampering the re-election chances of the incumbent President, Ronald Reagan.[203] Some commentators dismiss this idea, however, noting that Reagan s campaign rhetoric compared the Olympic flame with the Statue of Liberty s beacon as emblems of American virtue brightening the dark shadow cast by the Soviet evil empire .[206]

Cold War complications: Two Germanys

Despite the insistence that there was legally one Germany at the end of WWII, effectively there were two German states communist East Germany and the (western) Federal Republic of Germany. It was generally agreed that Germany should not be admitted to the 1948 Olympics, given that intense feelings of resentment towards the nation were still apparent. But by 1952 these had lessened and it was hoped that both Germanys would compete under the one flag. This was not to be, and only West Germany competed at the Helsinki Games.

Both German states united to compete at the Olympics in Melbourne, Rome and Tokyo. However, after the communists erected a wall to divide East and West Berlin in 1961, the IOC was forced to recognise two German Olympic Committees and teams from the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) competed at the Munich Olympics in 1972.

In 1976, the East Germans finished second to the Soviet Union in the medal count. In 1984 the East Germans won the most medals at the Sarajevo Winter Games.[207] East Germany ranks ninth on list of medals won at the Olympics.

East and West Germany reunited after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and competed as a single German team from 1992.

In recent times, there have been moves to challenge many of the performances of East German athletes on the grounds that documents and testimony obtained after the fall of the Berlin Wall revealed a state-sponsored system of performance-enhancing drug use that existed in the former East Germany from 1968 to 1988 .[208]

The IOC has agreed to address any such claims on an individual basis.

China and Taiwan

Until the late 1970s, the IOC recognised two Chinese Olympic committees the Taipei Olympic Committee and the Chinese Olympic Committee.

This situation resulted from a civil war lasting decades, which led to the establishment of the Communist People s Republic of China (the PRC also referred to as China in the following section on Beijing) in 1949. At that time, the Guomindang under Chiang Kai-shek fled from the mainland to the island of Taiwan and proclaimed Taipei the temporary capital of China.[209]

However, because the PRC regarded Taiwan as a province of China, in 1958 it withdrew from the IOC in protest of the dual recognition policy. Taiwan participated in the following five Summer Games, which the PRC did not attend.

In 1970, Canada recognised the PRC as the legitimate China and consequently severed diplomatic ties with Taiwan. This became problematic in the lead up to the Montreal Olympics in 1976 when Canada insisted that Taiwan could not compete as the Republic of China. The United States, which supported Taiwan s legitimacy, threatened to withdraw from the Games. Canada offered a compromise the Taipei Olympic Committee could compete as long as it did not do so representing the Republic of China. But the Taipei Committee refused this offer and withdrew the day before the Montreal Games commenced.

The PRC reapplied for IOC membership in the 1970s. In 1979, the IOC agreed that the PRC Chinese Olympic Committee represented all China and from that time it has regarded the Taipei Olympic Committee as one of China s local organisations.[210]

The PRC sent a team to the Lake Placid Winter Games in 1980 and in 1984 attended its first Summer Games in Los Angeles. Taiwan rejoined the Games at the 1984 Summer Games in Los Angeles and competes under a flag, anthem and emblems approved by the IOC.[209]

Tension still exists between the PRC and Taiwan and this resurfaced in the lead up to the Beijing Olympics in 2008 in relation to the Olympic torch relay. After various attempts at compromise by both nations to allow the torch to travel through the city of Taipei, the Taiwanese withdrew permission for the Olympic torch to pass through their territory.[212] There is speculation, however, that tensions between the PRC and Taiwan will ease following the election of Guomindang leader, Ma Ying-jeou, in March 2008.[213]

Back to top

Beijing 2008

On 13 July 2001, Beijing was selected as host city for the 2008 Games, which will take place from 8 to 24 August 2008. It is expected approximately 10 500 athletes will compete in 28 summer sports at the 2008 Games.

The theme of the Beijing Olympics will be One World, One Dream . The Games organisers consider this slogan conveys the desire of the Chinese people to participate in the global community and of a China committed both to modernisation and to peaceful coexistence with other nations.[214]

Beijing was a close contender for the award of the 2000 Olympics but concern expressed about China s general human rights policies as well as the Tiananmen Square massacre of pro-democracy demonstrators in 1989 most likely contributed to its failure to secure the Games.[215] In 2001, however, Beijing was the successful bidder for the 2008 Summer Games and many commentators consider that the Games will deliver a possible opportunity for China to accelerate its movement toward the mainstream international community .[214] Indeed, it appears there have been a number of tentative moves in this direction. For example, China has begun to abandon a previously unshakeable tenet of foreign policy that imposing economic sanctions are counterproductive and it has moved from a passive spectator of international crises to a more active participant in efforts to solve them .[217]

At the same time, staging the Games has provided China with a reciprocal opportunity not only to show off its arrival on the world stage as a major power but also to highlight it as a power which projects its influence by moral suasion rather than strong arm tactics .[216]

Despite assessments of the merit of awarding the Games, like some of its predecessors, the Beijing Olympics has been the subject of controversy and international concern. Protests held in London, Paris, San Francisco and Canberra during the Olympic torch relay and accompanying media commentary have focussed on human rights issues in Tibet.[219] The call during these protests has been for China to end its occupation of Tibet and for the recognition of the human and democratic rights of Tibetans. Many Chinese, however, consider that reporting of the situation in Tibet has been distorted by the Western media. They not only approve of their government s handling of unrest in Tibet but consider that the Chinese takeover of that country pulled a feudal state into the modern era .[220]

While issues concerning Tibet have been most prominent in press coverage, these have not been the only human rights matters raised in relation to the staging of the Beijing Games. Other issues have elicited comment; for example, the construction of Olympics venues. There have been reports of forced evictions, migrant schools closed and neighbourhoods demolished. Many people have also reportedly been evicted without due process and without adequate compensation. Not that Beijing is unique in evicting people to make way for the construction of Olympic venues. As has been pointed out by one commentator, over 1.5 million people have been evicted to date in other Olympic cities. It has been argued however, that Beijing may provide one of the worst examples of Olympic venues being created at great personal cost to residents.[221] Similarly, it has been argued that rights to adequate pay, time off and work place safety for thousands of migrant construction workers have been ignored during the construction of Olympic venues.[222]

Another area of concern has been China s child labour practices. The labour advocacy group PlayFair 2008 has claimed that official souvenir makers for the Games are using workers as young as 12 years. The Beijing Olympics Organising Committee has responded positively, however, to such claims by revoking licences and imposing requirements for manufactures to comply with the recently strengthened labour laws. Some critics of the Games remain unconvinced that this will lead to long term, substantial changes to labour conditions.[223]

Disquiet has also been expressed about the environmental credentials of the 2008 Games. China has allocated billions of dollars to the Olympics project to control industrial emissions, move factories out of the Beijing area, initiate projects such as reforestation to help reduce dust and sandstorms from the Gobi Desert and improve public transport and fuel standards. In addition, after a trial in August 2007, it is anticipated that authorities will ban at least one million cars from Beijing streets during the Olympics.[224] Despite these actions, there has still been some concern expressed that Beijing s air pollution will be harmful to athletes. As the IOC has argued, however, Beijing will not be the only Olympic host city to have experienced environmental problems the air quality in Athens, Los Angeles and Mexico City was also not pristine. The added issue for Beijing, however, is that this problem will be compounded by heat and humidity.[225]

Some commentators also do not believe that the environmental measures being taken for the 2008 Games will address underlying environmental problems.[226] Despite such scepticism, it appears that Beijing s progress towards making the 2008 Games green has been considerable.[227] And there are indeed signs that China intends to continue with programs to address environmental issues such as water pollution following the Olympics. For example, in January 2008, the Chinese Government announced it would initiate programs between 2008 and 2020 to address pollution of rivers, lakes and drinking water and to monitor the water body environment.[228]

Fireworks to mark the one year countdown to Beijing

Fireworks to mark the one year countdown to Beijing 

Source: MSNBC website[229]

In making the decision to award the Games to Beijing IOC President Jacques Rogge commented that the IOC view was that the Games would also make a positive contribution to the improvement of human rights in China.[230] It could be argued that there is a precedent for this view, given that human rights issues were also an important component of the Seoul Games in 1988.[231] The IOC s decision to award the Games to Seoul was controversial at that time, with concerns expressed about the nature of the military regime that governed South Korea. It has been mostly agreed since that the Olympics played a pivotal role in bringing democracy to South Korea.[232]

At least one commentator concurs with this assessment noting that:

In the abstract, Seoul gives sustenance to those mindful of an Olympic formula that can at least accelerate political liberalization and create more official tolerance for dissent in China: An authoritarian state, eager for validation, wobbles under the heat of international scrutiny and criticism and then loosens its grip.[233]

From another perspective, a case can be made that the situation in China cannot be so directly compared to that of Seoul. One reason for this is that the Games have been effectively portrayed by the Chinese Government as a symbol of national pride. Therefore, making it

difficult for dissidents or for the many thousands of Beijing residents whose lives have been severely disrupted by the arrival of the games [sic] to criticise without appearing unpatriotic.[234]

As has been noted throughout this paper, controversy has been a constant companion of the Olympics. It was unlikely that Beijing would be the exception to this tradition, especially given that it appears that the Games are but one part of a longer-term, complex strategy to promote China as a stable responsible international power, but one that nonetheless rejects what it defines as interventionism in international and domestic affairs practiced by western governments.[235]


With all their controversies and scandals, boycotts and machinations, for over a century, the Olympic Games have reflected the personal and political struggles and triumphs of individuals and nations.

Some have criticised the Games as a sham, arguing they are merely a symbol of greed, destructive nationalism, political posturing and corruption which benefits only multinational corporations.[236]

Others, however, share the view of the founder of the modern Games, Pierre de Coubertin, arguing that:

The Olympic Movement is one of the greatest acts of human imagination and will the world has ever known. At its heart is the desire for world peace and unity between sports, culture and education. No other movement has so powerfully captured the human heart for positive purpose.[237]

Inevitably, both views describe aspects of the Games. What some see as excessive commercialism, others consider is clever marketing that in turn supports financial initiatives for poorer nations to develop sport. While some have seen the Games as sport being used as merely a tool to fuel racism and promote political agendas, others see a further dimension a celebration of culture and human achievement. Scandals sometimes obscure achievements, but there are also moments where the achievements transcend sport and say something about sportsmanship.

It is inevitable that the Games do elicit polarised views. And it is inevitable that the views simply serve to illustrate that the Games are a reflection of us our faults and foibles, triumphs and tragedies.

This is no doubt why they endure.

Appendix A:Australian athletes at the Games

Winter Games

Speed skating

Steven Bradbury was the first Australian to win a Winter Games gold medal. His victory was achieved in the speed skating final at the Salt Lake City Olympics when a spectacular final lap crash between all other competitors in the race left him the only competitor to cross the finish line.

Steven Bradbury glides past his rival to win the speed skating final in Salt Lake City 

Summer Games


Betty Cuthbert. Cuthbert won four Olympic gold medals, three at the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne for the 100 and 200 metre individual sprints and for the women's team 400 metre relay. In 1964 in Tokyo, Cuthbert won a fourth gold medal in the 400 metre sprint.

Marjorie Jackson (Jackson-Nelson). Known as the The Lithgow Flash , Jackson won two Olympic gold medals in Helsinki in 1952 and seven Commonwealth Games gold medals for athletics.

Glynis Nunn (Nunn-Cearns). Glynis Nunn is the only Australian to have won an Olympic multi-discipline athletics event. In the boycott-affected 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, at which the five-event pentathlon was replaced by the seven-event heptathlon, she defeated the great American Jacqueline Joyner (later Joyner-Kersee).

Shirley Strickland (de la Hunty). Strickland won seven Olympic medals - three gold, one silver and three bronze - during a career that spanned three Olympic Games, 1948, 1952 and 1956). She was awarded fourth place in the 200 metres at the London Olympics in 1948 but later photographic evidence revealed she should have been awarded the bronze medal and an eighth medal.

Her total of medals remained a record for women's track and field until the final day of the Sydney 2000 Olympics, when Jamaica's Merlene Ottey, competing in the 400 metre relay, won an eighth.

Herb Elliott. In 1958, Elliott became the youngest athlete to break the four-minute mile. He set a world record in winning gold at the Rome Olympics. He was nominated by the International Amateur Athletic Association as the greatest 1500 metre runner of the last 75 years.

In 1988, he was selected as one of the 200 greatest Australians for the Bicentenary celebrations.

Herb ElliotPictured at left Herb Elliot


Simon Fairweather. Fairweather became Australia s first and only Olympic archery champion when he won gold in the men s individual archery competition at the 2000 Sydney Games.


Clint Robinson. Robinson became Australia s first canoe kayak gold medallist when he defeated the Norwegian World Champion Knut Holmann to win the 1000 metres singles final in Barcelona in 1992. He won a bronze medal in Atlanta four years later in Atlanta and a silver medal with Nathan Baggaley in Athens in 2004.

Cycling: Kathy Watt and Ryan Baylet


Kathy Watt. Kathy Watt became Australia’s first female cycling gold medallist when she won the 181 kilometre road race at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona.

She also won a silver medal in 3000 metre individual pursuit event.

Ryan Bayley. Bayley is the only Australian to have won two individual Olympic cycling gold medals in the sprint and the Keirin

Bayely is pictured at left


Chantelle Newbery. Newbery became Australia s first diving gold medallist in 80 years and the nation s first female Olympic diving champion when she won the 10 metre platform event at the 2004 Athens Games. Team mate Loudy Tourky won the bronze. Newbery also won bronze (with Irina Lashko) in the three metre synchronised springboard event. She and her husband Robert Newbery, who won two bronze medals, were the first husband and wife combination to represent Australia at an Olympic Games.


Andrew Hoy. At the Sydney Games, after winning the three day equestrian team event with Phillip Dutton, Matt Ryan and Stuart Tinney, Andrew Hoy became the first Australian other than Dawn Fraser to win three gold medals in a row.

From sick bed to gold- Bill Roycroft

Prior to the last day of the three day equestrian event at the Rome Olympics Australia was in a good position to win the gold medal but it needed three of the four team members to compete well in the final round. This looked unlikely as one of the team horses had broken down, putting one member out of the competition and the fourth team member, Bill Roycroft, was in hospital after falling during the steeplechase phase of the event.

Doctors refused to release Roycroft from hospital but Roycroft insisted on competing. He was 45, laced heavily with pain-killers, unable to bend, and his comrades had to dress him for the last ride. He was virtually folded onto [his horse] Our Solo, and the reins were placed in his hands. He flawlessly completed the round of 12 jumps, ensuring team gold for Australia .

Roycroft competed in four more Olympics, winning team bronze in 1968 and 1976. He was flag bearer at the Mexico Opening Ceremony in 1968.


Rechelle Hawkes. Australia is the only country to have won gold medal in women s field hockey more than once - in Seoul in 1988, Atlanta in 1996 and Sydney in 2000. Rechelle Hawkes was a member of all three gold medal teams. Hawkes, Dawn Fraser, Andrew Hoy and James Tomkins are the only Australians to have won gold medals at three separate Olympics.

Rechelle Hawkes on the field


James Tomkins. Tomkins, a past member of the Oarsome Foursome is a triple Olympic gold medallist and the winner of nine world championships. He is regarded by many as Australia s greatest rower. Tomkins has been chosen as part of the Men s eight Squad for the Beijing Olympics.


Andrew Boy Charlton. Charlton s nickname bestowed because he was only 14 when he first came to prominence. His status as a national idol was confirmed when he beat the Swedish world record-holder Arne Borg three times in early 1924; after their first clash at the Domain Baths in Sydney (since named after him). In 1924, the year he turned 17, he also won the 1500 metres in Paris. He competed in three Olympics (1924, 1928 and 1932), and won a further three silver medals and a bronze. He carried the flag for Australia in the 1932 Olympics.

Shane Gould. In the 1972 Olympics, Gould set records in the 200 and 400 metres swimming events. She won three gold medals, one silver and one bronze medal to create a new record as the most medals won by a woman at an Olympic Games.

Kieran Perkins. Perkins won the gold medal for the 1500 metre freestyle at both the 1992 and 1996 Olympic Games. He placed second in the event in the 2000 Olympic Games, finishing behind fellow Australian Grant Hackett. Perkins was the first swimmer in history to hold Olympic, World and Commonwealth titles at the same time.

Dawn Fraser


Dean Lukin. Lukin won Australia s first gold medal for weightlifting in the super heavy weight division at the Los Angeles Games in 1984.


Some Australian Olympic Facts

Some Australian Olympic Facts

Oldest gold medallist
Bill Northham (yachting)
59 years 26 days in Tokyo 1964

Youngest gold medallist
Sandra Morgan (swimming)
14 years 6 months in Melbourne 1956

Source: Australian Olympic Committee

Appendix B:Some Australian Olympians who entered politics:

Summer Games:

        Sir Frank Beaurepaire Beaurepaire won six Olympic medals at the 1908 London Games, the 1920 Antwerp Games and the 1924 Paris Games. Although none of these medals was gold, his tally of men s swimming medals stood until surpassed by Murray Rose in 1960. In 1928 he became a Melbourne city councillor and from 1940-42 he was Lord Mayor of Melbourne. He was knighted in 1942 and in the same year elected to the Legislative Council, where he sat until 1952. He was an unsuccessful United Australia Party candidate for the Senate in 1943. He was one of the chief sponsors of the proposal to hold the Olympic Games in Melbourne in 1956 and was for a time chairman of the Victorian Olympic Council and of the Olympic Games Organising Committee.

        Ric Charlesworth Charlesworth represented Australia in hockey in Munich in 1972, Montreal 1976, Los Angeles in 1984 and Seoul in 1988. He was the Federal Labor Member for Perth from 1983 1993. From 1993 to 2000 he was National Coach of the Australian Women s Hockey Team, the Hockeyroos. He was awarded an Order of Australia in 1987.

        Ron Clarke Clarke competed in the Tokyo Olympics in 1964 and Mexico City in 1968. Hs is currently the (independent) mayor of the Gold Coast. Although he did not win Olympic gold, at one stage in his career he held every world record from two miles to 20 kilometres.

        Dawn Fraser Fraser was a Member of the New South Wales Parliament from 1988 1991 (see appendix A for more details). She competed at the Melbourne (1956), Rome (1960) and Tokyo (1964) Olympics.

        Wilfred Kent-Hughes represented Australia in the 400m hurdles at the 1920 Antwerp Olympics. He held the seat of Kew in the Victorian Parliament from 1927 1949, originally as a Progressive Nationalist before he and Robert Menzies founded the Young Nationalist Organisation in 1930. He held various portfolios in the United Australia Party Country Party ministry of 1932 35. During WWII he was a prisoner of war after having been captured at the fall of Singapore in February 1942. Following the war he returned to politics and was the Member for Chisholm from 1949 until his death in 1970. He was knighted in 1957.

        Peter Watson - Olympian and sub four minute mile runner who competed at the Mexico Olympics in 1968. Watson won the Western Australian state seat of Albany in 2001 for the Labor Party after it had been held by the Liberals for 27 years.

Winter Games:

        Kirstie Marshall Aerial skier Marshall competed in the Lillihammer (1994) and Nagano (1998) Winter Games. Marshall was director of the Olympic Winter Institute before being elected as the Member for Forest Hill in the Victorian Parliament in 2002.

Appendix C:Summer and Winter Games venues

Summer Games










Athens, Greece








Paris, France








St Louis, USA








Athens, Greece








London, UK








Stockholm, Sweden








Berlin, Germany




Antwerp, Belgium








Paris, France








Amsterdam, Netherlands








Los Angeles, USA








Berlin, Germany








Tokyo, Japan & Helsinki, Finland




London, England



London, UK








Helsinki, Finland








Melbourne, Australia
Stockholm, Sweden (Equestrian)








Rome, Italy








Tokyo, Japan








Mexico City, Mexico








Munich, West Germany








Montreal, Canada








Moscow, USSR








Los Angeles, USA








Seoul, South Korea








Barcelona, Spain








Atlanta, USA








Sydney, Australia








Athens, Greece








Beijing, China





London, UK



Winter Games










Chamonix, France








St. Moritz, Switzerland








Lake Placid, USA








Garmish-Partenkirchen, Germany








Sapporo, Japan
St. Moritz, Switzerland
Garmish-Partenkirchen, Germany




Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy



St. Moritz, Switzerland








Oslo, Norway








Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy








Squaw Valley, USA








Innsbruck, Austria








Grenoble, France








Sapporo, Japan








Innsbruck, Austria








Lake Placid, USA








Sarajevo, Yugoslavia








Calgary, Canada








Albertville, France








Lillehammer, Norway








Nagano, Japan








Salt Lake City, USA








Turin, Italy








Vancouver, Canada




Sochi, Russia






[1]. The Olympic Games will be referred to throughout this paper alternatively as either the Olympics or the Games.

[2]. J. Donovan, Olympics 2004: despite problems, Olympics ideals endure , RadioFreeEurope, RadioLiberty, 6 August 2004,
, accessed on 23 August 2007.

[3]. Olympic controversies ,, August 2007,, accessed on 24 August 2007.

[4]. D. Tandon, The politics of the Games and the Games as politics , Sunday Tribune 18 November 2001,
, accessed on 24 August 2007.

[5]. A yard is 0.9144 metres.

[6]. D. Wallechinsky, Olympic Games , World Book Online Reference Center (sic),
, accessed on 15 July 2007.

[8]. IOC Fact sheet, The Olympic Games of antiquity , update February 2007,, accessed on 30 July 2007..

[9]. ibid.

[10]. The ancient Olympic Games , Official Website of the Olympic Movement, 2007, see accessed on 30 July 2007.

[11]. A brief history of the Olympic Games , Nostos Hellenic Information Society, 2000, accessed 30 July 2007. The 480 BC Games for example were held during the Persian Wars and coincided with the Battle of Thermopylae. (See Ancient Mesopotamia website,, for a description of the battle), accessed on 25 July 2007.

[12]. Frequently asked questions about the Olympics , The Ancient Olympics, a special exhibit of the Perseus Digital Library Project, Tufts University, 13 August 2004,, accessed on 25 July 2007.

[13]. A brief history , op. cit.

[14]. Some argue that the Olympics revival actually occurred prior to 1896. The Wenlock Olympic Society for example considers that the first modern Olympics were held in Much Wenloch in the United Kingdom in 1850 and that the founder of the modern Olympic movement was Dr. William Penny Brookes. The Wenlock Games are still held each year in July.
See the website at, accessed on 3 April 2008. See also Young, op. cit., pp. 8 12.

[15]. Pierre de Coubertin at Official website of the Olympic Movement, 2007,

A number of Australians have been recognised by the International Fairplay committee which administers the award, the most recent was cricketer Adam Gilchrist who was awarded a letter of congratulations in 2003 for his sporting attitude. See list of winners, accessed on 1 August 2007.

[16]. De Coubertin created a Pentathlon of the Muses , an Olympic competition for the arts as part of the Olympic revival. This has evolved into the Cultural Olympiad which the Charter of the International Olympic Committee has decreed is equally important as sport on the official Olympic Games calendar. See the (British) Department of Culture, Media and Sport, plans for the cultural Olympiad to commence following the closing of the Beijing Olympics at, also B. Garcia, Olympic arts festivals and the visual arts , Newsletter of the National Association for the Visual Arts September 2000,, accessed on 19 October 2007.

[17]. Pierre de Coubertin Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopaedia 2007, See International Fair Play Committee website, for the 2007 list of winners, accessed on 1 August 2007.

[18]. Nurmi, from Finland, first competed in distance running in 1920 in Antwerp. During the 1920s he won nine gold medals. See biography at Sports Museum Foundation of Finland, 5 August 1997,, accessed on 24 August 2007.

[19]. In Helsinki in 1952, Czechoslovakian Zatopek became the only runner to win the 5000 and 10 000 metre and marathon races in the same Olympics. See brief biography at Running Past,, accessed on 15 August 2007.

[20]. Lewis is one of only four Olympic athletes to win nine gold medals and one of only three to win the same individual event four times. See biography at The Carl Lewis' myth and legend website 2000,, accessed on 15 August 2007.

[21]. At the 1972 Olympics, Spitz won seven gold medals and broke seven world records. See Spitz official website, accessed on 23 August 2007.

[22]. In 2004 in Athens, Michael Phelps won eight medals in swimming (six gold and two bronze). See profile at, accessed on 14 September 2007.

[23]. In Montreal in 1976, Comaneci, a 14-year-old gymnast from Romania, earned the first perfect score of 10 awarded in the Olympics. She eventually earned seven scores of 10 and won three gold medals, Gymbrooke Sports News 2007,, accessed on 13 September 2007.

[24]. In 1964 in Tokyo, Urkranian gymnast Latynina won six medals. She has won the most Olympic medals of any athlete 18 (nine were gold). See also site which provides information on the top Olympic medal winners at the Summer and Winter Games at,
, accessed on 15 August 2007.

[25]. In the 1980 Olympics in Moscow, Dityatin, from the Soviet Union, won eight medals and took part in all Olympic finals. He was the first male gymnast to earn a perfect score of 10.
See profile at Official Website of the Olympic Movement,, accessed on 14 September 2007.

[26]. See discussion at India in the Olympics , at,, accessed on 14 September 2007.

[27]. See articles on these athletes at J. Halley, Craziness pays for Aussie , Salt Lake Tribune, 15 March 2002, (Bunting); Heroic comeback by Modra , 21 September 2004, (Modra); Michael Milton website, She s game , Australian Women's Archives Project, 2007, (Sauvage). See other Paralympian athlete profiles at Australian Paralympic Committee website, accessed on 28 November 2007.

[28]. Technically, Australia did not compete at the 1896 Olympics, as Federation did not take place until 1901. However, an athlete from the colony of Victoria, Edwin Flack, competed and won two gold medals in athletics. For profile of Flack see D. Carr, Noteworthy Flacks, Edwin Harold Teddy Flack Olympic champion for Australia Athens 1896 , Flack Genealogy website,, accessed on 17 August 2007. Australian women first competed in the Games in 1912. Fanny Durack (Brief biography at H. King, 'Durack, Sarah (Fanny) (1889 1956)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 8, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne, 1981,, accessed on 24 August 2007 and Wilhelmina (Mina) Wylie won gold and silver respectively in swimming. See reference at M. Stell, Half the Race: A history of Australian women in sport, Angus and Robertson, North Ryde, 1991.

[29]. See C. Lucas, The Olympic Games 1904,
, accessed on 15 August 2007. Taking into consideration the technicality noted in the previous footnote, there appears to be no dispute that Australia and Greece have participated at every Summer Games. There is some disagreement about whether Switzerland and Great Britain, which have competed at all Winter Olympics, have also competed at all Summer Games. Some sources claim that France also has competed in all Summer Olympics, but there is some dispute over the nationality of its sole competitor at the 1904 Games.

[30]. Australian Olympic Committee statistics: 121 gold, 126 silver and 155 bronze at Summer Games and three gold and three bronze at Winter Games.

[31]. See Appendix A, which provides a snapshot of some Australian performances at the Summer and Winter Games.

[32]. For example, according to Statistik Austria, although the Bahamas won only one gold and one bronze medal at the Athens Games, this amounted to 1.83 medals per 100 000 people based on a population aged between 15 and 34 and amounted to the top sporting performance at the Games. Australia, with a total of 49 medals, was second with 0.86 medals and the United States, which numerically topped the medals standings (with 37 gold, 39 silver and 29 bronze medals) was ranked 38. Bahamas tops medal table per population , Sydney Morning Herald, 31 August 2004,,
accessed on 19 October 2007.

[33]. H. Gordon, Australia and the Olympic Games. The official history, University of Queensland Press, St Lucia, 1994, p. 412.

[34]. See OWI website at, accessed on 3 April 2008.

[35]. These were cycling, fencing, gymnastics, lawn tennis, shooting, swimming, track and field, weightlifting and wrestling.

[36]. In the Paris Olympics in 1900, for example, track and field events were held on an uneven, grassy field where competitors were expected to dig their own pits, discus and hammer throwers were given inadequate room to compete and ended up launching throws into the crowd, hurdles were made from telephone poles and the swimming events were held in the Seine River. Paris almost put an end to the Olympic movement , website,
, accessed on 15 October 2007.

[37]. In 1904, Thomas Hicks of the United States, who had to be helped to the finishing line, perhaps as a result of his competing under the influence of alcohol and strychnine (then commonly used as a stimulant), won the marathon after a fellow competitor was disqualified for completing much of the race travelling in a car, Olympic follies , History House,, accessed on 15 August 2007.

At the 1908 Games in London when officials omitted to fly the United States flag at the opening ceremony, the American flag bearer retaliated by refusing to lower the standard as his team marched past the Royal Box. This caused officials who felt compelled to restore the importance of the monarchy , to extend the marathon distance to ensure that it finished in front of the King; an action which may have denied Dorando Pietri of Italy a gold medal. Although Pietri entered the stadium in first place in the marathon, he collapsed before reaching the finish line and had to be helped across. To the chagrin of British spectators, Pietri was disqualified and second placed American athlete John Hayes was awarded the event. Pietri s effort made him famous, however, and increased interest in the Olympic Movement. The Queen of England presented him with a special trophy and a popular song was written in his honour. See the following websites for further information on the London Games marathon, Pietri and John Hayes,
accessed on 15 August 2007.

[38]. The 1932 Games were staged in Los Angeles. Thirty seven countries and over 1300 athletes competed. These Games introduced a number of sporting innovations including automatic timing for races and the photo-finish camera. The first Olympic Village was erected to house competitors and the Games were held over a shortened period 16 days. This was in contrast to previous Games, such as the 1924 Paris Olympics which were contested over a five month period. The first Olympic revenue raising took place in Los Angeles when money from the sale of a stamp was returned to the Olympic Movement, World mired in depression but games (sic) celebrations continue , website,, accessed on 15 October 2007.

[39]. See Official Website of the Olympic Movement 2007, for a profile of Connelly, accessed on 15 August 2007.

[40]. The marathon retraces the legendary 25 mile route that had been run by Pheidippides to tell the Athenians that the invading Persians had been routed at Marathon.

[41]. Weissmuller won three swimming gold medals at the Paris Games and two at the following Games in Amsterdam in 1928. He set 28 world records, one of which stood for 17 years. Some commentators rate him ahead of Mark Spitz as the greatest swimmer of all time. He was to become Hollywood s most famous Tarzan, playing the character in films between 1932 and 1948. See brief profile at Hollywood legends , the Roger Richman Agency,, accessed on 13 August 2007.

[42]. Gold medals won by British runners Abrahams in the 100 metres and Liddell in the 400 metres races at the 1924 Paris Games were later immortalised in the 1981 Academy Award winning film, Chariots of Fire . Biography of Abrahams at,
and Liddell at,, accessed on 13 August 2007.

[43]. See biography of Jesse Owens at,, accessed on 13 August 2007.

[44]. Women first competed in the 1900 Games.

[45]. D. Rand, Biography of Sonja Henie , Pagewise at,
, accessed on 15 October 2007. Henie won three successive Olympic gold medals at Saint Mortiz , Switzerland in 1928, Lake Placid, United States in 1932 and Garmesch-Partenkirchen in Germany in 1936.

[46]. Although severely damaged in World War II, London staged a successful Olympics in 1948. Wembley Stadium which had escaped unscathed from the War was the principal venue for competition and the London Games were the first to be televised. As London was in the process of more serious rebuilding, however, no Olympic village was constructed for the Games. Athletes were housed in schools, government buildings and military barracks. They were required to bring their own food to the competition, as London continued war time food rationing.

[47]. On September 5 1972, eight Palestinian terrorists broke into the Olympic Village dormitory of the Israeli team, killing two athletes and taking nine hostages. The terrorists demanded the release of more than 200 Arab prisoners in Israel as a condition of release of the hostages. During the confrontation all the Israeli hostages were killed, as well as five terrorists and one policeman. See A. Klein, Striking back: the 1972 Munich Olympics Massacre and Israel s deadly response, Random House, New York, 2005 for discussion of these Olympics.

[48]. The United States led a boycott by fifty five nations of the Moscow Games to protest the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 (For discussion see M. Kakar, Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan , eScholarship Editions, California Digital Library, The Regents of the University of California,
, accessed on 28 August 2007.

Australia did not join this boycott. Although the Fraser Government was not in favour of an Australian team attending these Games, the decision to participate was left to the Australian Olympic Committee. The Committee was itself divided, and in the end, some teams and some athletes did not attend the Games in deference to the government s wishes. John Coates, current President of the Australian Olympic Committee, argues that the decision not to follow the American boycott helped secure the 2000 Olympics for Sydney, as the Australian Olympic Committee was seen as truly independent of government. P. Mulvey, Coates honoured for leading Olympic renaissance , AAP Australian General News, 12 June 2006,
, accessed on 18 September 2007. See also L. Forrest, Boycott: Australia s controversial road to the 1980 Moscow Olympics, ABC Books, Sydney, 2008.

Sixteen countries boycotted the Los Angeles Olympics with the Soviet Union citing expected excessive commercialism and the lack of security as reasons. America denounced this as a blatant political act and many commentators labelled the withdrawal a payback for America s Moscow boycott. BBC, On this Day, 8 May, 1984: Moscow pulls out of US Olympics, accessed on 29 August 2007. See also B. Shaikin, Sport and politics: the Olympics and the Los Angeles Games, Praeger, New York, 1988 for further discussion.

[49]. A special selection process had been introduced to select the Games city for the 1952 Games. But it was not until allegations of undue influence were exerted on Olympic officials by some cities for selection that an official procedure was set out in the Olympic Charter in relation to the election of a host city. Olympic Charter, Chapter 5, Rule 34 and its by-law, Olympic Charter ,, accessed on 15 August 2007.

[50]. One of these was Australian IOC member Phil Coles, who also resigned from his position with the Australian Olympic Committee. Coles was cited by the IOC for carelessly handling lavish perks. CNN, 12 March 1999,, for a detailed discussion on the scandal see J. Calvert, How to buy the Olympics , The Observer, 6 January 2002,,,676494,00.html, accessed on 28 August 2007.

[51]. A. Guttman, Olympic Games at Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia 2007,, accessed on 30 July 2007. See also Guttman s book on the Olympics, The Olympics. a history of the modern Games, (2nd edition), University of Illinois Press, 2002.

[52]. See B. Howard, 15 days in 56: the first Australian Olympics, Angus and Robertson, Sydney, 1995 for further details.

[53]. Melbourne/Stockholm 1956 , Official Website of the Olympic Movement, 2007,, accessed on 13 August 2007.

[54]. Some of the outstanding performances at these Games were those of Betty Cuthbert, Lorraine Crapp, Dawn Fraser and David Thiele. See links to biographies of Fraser and Cuthbert at Appendix A and to Crapp at Australian Olympic Committee website,, accessed on 15 October 2007.

[55]. 1956 Melbourne Olympics State Library of Victoria exhibition site,
, accessed on 24 August 2007.

[56]. These were particularly obvious prior to the Olympics when the Suez Canal crisis erupted in October, the Soviet Union quelled an uprising in Hungary and the People s Republic of China withdrew from the Games because Taiwan had been allowed to compete.

[57]. Public Record Office of Victoria, 1956 Melbourne Olympics,, accessed on 15 October 2007.

[58]. Best Olympic Games ever: Samaranch , at, 1 October 2000,, accessed on 6 September 2007.

[59]. See Powerhouse Museum website,
=, accessed on 4 September 2007.

[60]. Welcome to the Green Games 2000 , Department of the Environment and Water Resources website,, accessed on 4 September 2007.

[61]. Sharon Beder is visiting professor in the School of Social Sciences, Media and Communication at the University of Wollongong in New South Wales.

[62]. S. Beder, Let the spin begin , Harper s Magazine, May 2000,, accessed on 4 September 2007.

[63]. See biography of Ian Thorpe at ICMI Speakers website,, accessed on 11 December 2007.

[64]. See biography at Australian Olympic Committee website,, accessed on 11 December 2007.

[65]. See website dedicated to the equestrian team win at, accessed on 11 December 2007.

[66]. The Hockeyroos had won three gold medals since the 1988 Olympics in Seoul (1988, 1996 and 2000). See website, accessed on 11 December 2007.

[67]. See biography at Australian Olympic Committee website,, accessed on 11 December 2007.

[68]. S. Orkiror, The 2000 Olympics. What happened to Aboriginal plight , 25 May 2005,
, accessed on 13 December 2007. See also G. Cashman and R. Cashman, Red, black and gold: Sydney aboriginal people and the Olympics, Centre for Olympic Studies, University of New South Wales, Sydney, 2000.

[69]. H. Lenskyj, The Best Olympics Ever, State University of New York Press, Albany, 2002, p. 85.

[70]. The Games were originally known as the Stoke Mandeville Games because they were first held in the precincts of the Stoke Mandeville Hospital in England. They were the brainchild of Dr Ludwig Guttmann who considered sport was an important part of the rehabilitation process for veterans who had suffered spinal injuries in World War II.

[71]. See International Paralympic Committee website for details of all Summer and Winter sports, and, accessed on 12 December 2007.

[72]. See groups at International Paralympic Committee website,,
accessed on 12 December 2007.

[73]. The cheats , Guardian Unlimited, 15 September 2004,, accessed on 17 September 2007.

[74]. Paralympics: mentally disabled barred from Games , New York Times, 4 February 2003,
, accessed on 17 September 2007.

[75]. The last Special Olympics were held in Shanghai in China 7-11 October 2007. People over eight years old with a recognised intellectual disability are eligible to compete in the Special Olympics. See website, accessed on 17 September 2007.

[76]. See the Australian Paralympics website for medal tables of past Games,, accessed on 11 December 2007.

[77]. For a detailed discussion of The modern Olympic phenomenon , see Chapter 4 in K. Toohey and A. Veal, The Olympic Games: A social science perspective , (2nd edition), CABI, Oxfordshire, 2007.

[78]. The Olympic Program , op. cit.

[79]. The Olympic Program , Official website of the Beijing Olympics,, accessed on 1 August 2007.

[80]. These include auto and motorcycle racing.

[81]. 1924 Olympics Chamonix ,, accessed on 5 September 2007.

[82]. See Sites of the Olympic Games at World Book Online Reference Center (sic),
, accessed on 10 November 2007.

[83]. The United States has won 2112 medals and the Soviet Union 1234. Note: The Winter Olympics figure includes medals won by the Soviet Union, the United Team and Russia. See table at,, accessed on 15 August 2007.

[84]. IOC Presidents: Demetrius Vikelas, Greece, 1894 1896; Pierre de Coubertin, France, 1896 1925; Henri de Baillet-Latour, Belgium, 1925 1942; J. Sigfrid Edstrom, Sweden, 1946 1952; Avery Brundage, United States of America, 1952 1972; Lord Killanin, Ireland, 1972 1980; Juan Antonio Samaranch, Spain, 1980 2001; Jacques Rogge, Belgium, 2001 present .

[85]. The Salt Lake City Games were noteworthy also for a number of other reasons. These include the added security that accompanied them. This additional security was inevitable, given that the Games opened only five months after the terrorist attacks on New York and the Pentagon in September 2001. The American decision to include a flag that had flown at Ground Zero in the Games opening ceremony was also criticised by some as introducing a dimension to the Games that was contrary to the Olympic spirit that competition is between athletes, not nations. ( Olympic Games: Comradeship or patriotism? The Power of Culture website, March 2002,, accessed on 28 August 2007).

Further controversy arose during the 2002 Games over the judging of the figure skating pairs competition. Judges awarded the gold medal to Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze of Russia and the silver medal to Jamie Sale and David Pelletier of Canada. After the Canadians protested, the French judge admitted to having been pressured to give the Russians a higher ranking. In an unprecedented ceremony the Canadian pair was presented with gold medals; the Russians were allowed to retain their gold medals.

Following the Games, a new judging system was introduced for future skating competitions, with the intention that fairer outcomes would ensue. But as one commentator notes, judging for the event in question, as for other events in which marks are awarded for artistic merit, at times continued to reflect old Cold War divisions, which were unlikely to be eradicated simply by changes to adjudication rules. See The Olympic figure skating controversy at Salt Lake City , E 2 website, 14 February 2002,
, accessed on 17 September 2007.

[86]. D. Wallechinsky, Olympic Games , World Book Online Reference Center (sic), 2007,, accessed on 26 July 2007.

[87]. For more information about the IOC commissions see the Official Website of the Olympic Movement, 2007,, accessed on 19 October 2007.

[88]. United Nations membership is at the United Nations website,
. National Olympic Committees are established in Puerto Rico, Hong Kong and Chinese Taipei/Taiwan, for example. See full list of the national Olympic committees at the Official Website of the Olympic Movement, 2007,, accessed on 15 August 2007.

[89]. The Australian Olympic Foundation (the Foundation) was constituted in February 1996. Members and Directors of the Foundation are the voting members of the Executive of the Australian Olympic Committee. The aim of the Foundation is to develop and protect the Olympic Movement in Australia in accordance with the Olympic Charter. In particular its objective is to fund the preparation and participation of Australian Teams in the Olympic Games, Olympic Winter Games and Regional Games.

[90]. See the Australian Olympic Committee website at, accessed on 17 August 2007.

[91]. Australia won no gold medals at this Olympics. It won one silver medal in men s hockey and four bronze, two in sailing, one in equestrian and one in swimming.

[92]. The exception to this was the period 1972 75 (under the Whitlam Government) when a Ministry for tourism and recreation was funded with the intention of providing greater access to sports for all Australians. L. Embrey, Sport for all? The politics of funding, nationalism, and the quest for gold , in K. Schaffer and S. Smith (eds) The Olympics at the Millennium. Power, politics and the Games, Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick, 2000, pp. 281 282.

[93]. Aim as stated in the Australian Sports Commission Act 1989, section 6, see, accessed on 17 August 2007.

[94]. See profiles for these athletes at: Michael Klim, Swimming Australia website,
, Ailsa Camplin, at and Lauren Jackson at, accessed on 22 December 2007.

[95]. For detail of funding see Australian Sports Commission Annual Report 2006-07, p.102,
, accessed on 22 December 2007.

[96]. This has sometimes caused controversy, for example, in the case of Ian Thorpe s disqualification at the Australian swimming selection trials for the Athens Olympics after he made an illegal false start. Thorpe was eventually able to compete when his team mate, Craig Stevens, withdrew from the event. See Thorpe has grounds to appeal, says lawyer , Sydney Morning Herald, 1 April 2004, and C. Clarey, In the arena: Thorpe s Olympic slip sends rival on a guilt trip , International Herald Tribune, 7 April 2004,

Note also there are A and B qualifying levels for the Olympics. For example, for athletics events at the Beijing Olympics qualifying standards must be reached during the respective qualification period at the competitions organised and authorised by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). National Olympic committees may enter up to three athletes per event provided they have all met the A qualifying standard or one athlete per event if she/he has met the B qualifying standard. See more information at the IAAF website,, accessed on 17 August 2007

[97]. Olympians , Official Website of the Olympic Movement, 2007,
, accessed on 17 August 2007.

[98]. C. Lord, Eric the Eel , Lane 9 News, 20 September 2000,
, accessed on 23 August 2007.

[99]. See Pieter van de Hoogenband s website
, accessed on 20 September 2007.

[100]. Four time Olympian in water polo, 1988 to 1999.

[101]. See World Olympians Association website at, accessed on 23 August 2007.

[102]. S. Ross, Modern Olympics symbols and traditions , Information Please Database,, accessed on 10 August 2007.

[103]. Pierre de Coubertin first proposed the idea of an Olympic museum in 1915 but it did not come to fruition until 1993. Since its opening the museum has been visited by over two million people. See museum website at, accessed on 20 September 2007.

[104]. For further information see Medals and medal ceremonies,,, accessed on 10 August 2007.

[105]. See a selection of mascots at,, accessed on 15 August 2007.

[106]. Source for Lizzie logo, International Paralympic Committee website,
, accessed on 10 August 2007.

[107]. Ross, op. cit.

[108]. The youngest person ever to light the Olympic flame was schoolgirl and Canadian figure skater Robyn Perry, age 12 years, who lit the flame at the 1988 Calgary Olympic Winter Games.

[109]. The arrival of the Olympic flame at Mt Qomolangma , Beijing Olympics website,, accessed on 11 September 2007.

[110]. B. Thornton, Olympic Games , The Weekly Standard, Vol. 9, Issue 36, 6 July 2004,, accessed on 21 November 2007.

[111]. J. Coakley, Sport in society: issues and controversies, Mosby, St. Louis, 1992 quoted in Toohey and Veal, op. cit., p. 21.

[112]. Passing reference made to this issue in Olympic changes: dollars and sense , Online News Hour, Public Broadcasting Service, 23 July 1996,
, accessed on 21 August 2007.

[113]. Brian Martin points out athletes who are successful in prominent sports can become rich through sponsorships. They benefit from their association with the Olympics, which in turn reflects favourably on their sponsors. B. Martin, Design flaws of the Olympics , Social Alternatives, Vol. 19, No. 2, April 2000, pp. 19 23.

[114]. See brief profile of Brundage at Official Website of the Olympic Movement, 2007,, accessed on 11 September 2007.

[115]. See A. Guttman, The Games must go on: Avery Brundage and the Olympic Movement, Columbia University Press, New York, 1984 for detailed discussion of Brundage s uncompromising stance.

[116]. Killy was also involved in a controversial win in the slalom race. J. Gettings, 1968: an avalanche named Killy , Information Please Database, 2007 Pearson Education,, accessed on 28 August 2007.

[117]. See short biography at,
, accessed 24 August 2007.

[118]. The Dream Team averaged an Olympic record 117.3 points a game, and won by an average of 43.8 points. The closest an opponent could come was 32 points (117 85 versus Croatia in the gold medal game), Games of the XXVth Olympiad 1992 , USA Basketball website, 2004,
, accessed on 20 August 2007.

[119]. While professionals are not ineligible to compete, for example, in Association Football (soccer), there are age restrictions (players need to be under 23 years, although teams reaching the finals may also field three players above this age) which effectively limit the participation of professionals. See International Federation of Association Football (FIFA), Activity Report, Paris 2004,
, accessed on 22 December 2007.

[120]. See Australian Amateur Boxing Association website for discussion of differences in rules,, accessed on 21 December 2007.

[121]. See for example recent article by R. Tyrrell Jnr, Olympic ideal of amateurism , New York Sun, 5 October 2007,, accessed on 10 December 2207.

[122]. See the story of the United States college ice hockey team at the 1980 Olympics for example. K. Allen, College kids perform Olympic miracle , chapter from USA Hockey: a celebration of a great tradition, 23 December 1997, reprinted on,, accessed on 27 November 2207.

[123]. J. Slater, Changing partners: the relationship between the mass media and Olympic Games , Fourth International Symposium for Olympic Research,, accessed on 15 October 2007.

[124]. NBC lands U.S. Olympic rights through 2012 , CBC Sports, 7 June 2003,, accessed on 11 September 2007.

[125]. See image at, accessed on 31 August 2007.

[126]. J. Lucas, 1992, p.79, quoted by M. Real, The (Post) modern Olympics , School of Communication, San Diego State University San Diego,
, accessed on 31 August 2007.

[127]. IOC, Final Report 2001 -2004, Chapter 4,, accessed on 7 September 2007.

[128]. ibid.

[129]. B. Martin, Ten reasons to oppose all Olympic Games , Freedom, Vol. 57, No. 3, August 1996, pp. 19 23,, accessed on 7 September 2007.

[130]. ibid.

[131]. International Olympic Committee, 2006 Marketing fact file,
, accessed on 18 August 2007.

[132]. S. Jenkins, Green, not gold is the name of these Games , Washington Post, 11 February 2006, p. EO1,
, accessed on 21 August 2007.

[133]. For more detail see IOC website,, accessed on 11 September 2007.

[134]. IOC website,, accessed on 7 September 2007.

[135]. IOC Final Report, op. cit.

[136]. Jenkins, op. cit.

[137]. For more discussion of commercialism and the Olympics see R. Barney, S. Wenn and S. Martyn, Selling the five rings: the International Olympic Committee and the rise of Olympic commercialism, University of Utah Press, Salt Lake City, 2004.

[138]. C. Clarey, Olympians find the times are changing , International Herald Tribune, 31 October 2006,, accessed on 8 April 2008.

[139]. Performance enhancing drugs , MSN, 1993 2007 Microsoft Corporation,, accessed on 7 September 2007.

[140]. M. Kennedy, Newer drugs used to enhance sporting performance, Medical Journal of Australia, 173, 2000, pp. 314 317,, accessed on 7 September 2007.

[141]. (United Kingdom) House of Commons, Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport, 2004, Seventh Report of Session 2003 2004, HC 499-I, quoted in J. Savulescu, B. Foddy and M. Clayton, Why we should allow performance enhancing drugs in sport , British Journal of Sports Medicine, 38, 2004, pp. 666 670,, accessed on 18 October 2007.

[142]. Danish cyclist Knud Jensen died of complications from a drug administered to intensify his blood circulation.

[143]. For more information on the Medical Commission, see the Official Website of the Olympic Movement,, accessed on 7 September 2007.

[144]. Australia s Ron Clarke was the first person to be tested for drug use under this program. B. Corrigan and R. Kazlauskas, Drug testing at the Sydney Olympics , Medical Journal of Australia, 173, 2000, pp. 312 313,, accessed on 19 October 2007.

[145]. For the first two years of its existence WADA was funded entirely by the IOC. In 2001, world governments agreed to provide 50 per cent of the funding for the organisation. A formula was introduced which was intended to apportion funding. Consequently, Africa contributes less than one percent, while Europe contributes 47.5 per cent to WADA funding. For more information see funding section at the WADA website,, accessed on 11 September 2007.

[146]. Johnson stripped of Olympic gold , On this Day September 28, BBC,
, accessed on 10 September 2007.

[147]. See the WADA Code,, accessed on 10 September 2007.

[148]. See WADA 2007 prohibited list,, accessed on 10 September 2007.

[149]. IOC Final Report, op. cit., Chapter 2.

[150]. R. Parisotto, Will Fahey give WADA the teeth it needs to attack sport s drugs cheats? , Sportingo, SportBuzz,,5387,
accessed on 19 October 2007. See also Parisotto s discussion of drugs in sport, Blood sports: the inside dope on drugs in sport, Hardie Grant, Prahan, 2006.

[151]. ibid. Also for discussion of genetic doping see C. Bronwlee, Gene doping. Will athletes go for the ultimate high , Science News Online,
, accessed on 19 October 2007.

[152]. John Fahey is new WADA boss , Sydney Morning Herald, 18 November 2007,,
, accessed on 11 December 2007.

[153]. Savulescu et al, op. cit.

[154]. See profile at, accessed on 14 September 2007.

[155] M. Osborne, Medal may not be reassigned , AAP at Foxsports, 9 October 2007,,8659,22559550-23218,00.html, accessed on 11 September 2007.

[156]. IOC President says Marion Jones doping admission good thing for sport , The Canadian Press, 13 October 2007,
, accessed on 20 October 2007.

[157]. Savulescu, op. cit.

[158]. For more detailed argument see Onset, Science Communication Program, University of New South Wales, 7 February 2006, For more detailed comparative table see Idea website, Drugs in sport , 29 September,, accessed on 16 October 2007.

[159]. Rose quoted in J. Hooper, New swimsuits unfair: Rose , Daily Telegraph, 9 March 2008,,22049,23343185-5001023,00.html, accessed on 8 April 2008.

[160] ibid.

[161]. Records not down to swimsuits , BBCSPORT website, 27 March 2008,, accessed on 15 April 2008.

[162]. M. Kinver, Technology s impact on sporting success , BBC News Online,, accessed on 29 April, 2008.

[163]. C. Davis, Gaining a competitive edge , Materialstoday, Vol. 10, Issue 1 2, January February 2007, p. 60, ScienceDirect website,
accessed on 28 April, 2008.

[164]. Olympic history , at, accessed on 2 August 2007.

[165]. See J. Leder, Grace and glory: a century of women in the Olympics, Triumph Books, Washington, D.C., 1996, for more discussion of women and the Olympics.

[166]. For discussion see D. Plymire and P. Forman, Speaking of Cheryl Miller: interrogating thelesbian taboo on a women s basketball newsgroup , NWSA Journal, 13, 1, Spring, 2001,, accessed on 2 August 2007.

[167]. These were Pirjo Haggman of Finland and Flor Isava-Fonseca of Venezuela.

[168]. American, Anita DeFrantz. DeFrantz is also Chair of the IOC s Women and Sport Commission, established as the Women and Sport Working Group in 1995.

[169]. A. White and I. Henry, Women, leadership and the Olympic Movement, Institute of Sport and Leisure Policy, January 2004,, accessed on 12 December 2007.

[170]. Tom Reagan in the Christian Science Monitor makes such a suggestion. See Ten unforgettable Olympic moments ,, 2004,
, accessed on 22 December 2007.

[171]. For details on Thorpe see official website of Jim Thorpe and information compiled from People Weekly Magazine, Vol. 45, No. 1, 1 August, 1996 and Tulsa World Newspaper, 12 October 1995,, accessed on 15 August 2007.

[172]. See online version of Holocaust Museum, Washington DC exhibition on the 1936 Olympics at, accessed on 15 August 2007.

[173]. However, a number of boycotts by individuals occurred, for example, many Jewish athletes refused to participate in selection trials or attend the Games.

[174]. For discussion see D. Kass, The issue of racism at the 1936 Olympics , Journal of Sports History, Vol. 3, No. 3, 1976,, accessed on 12 December 2007.

[175]. Sportsmanship on the field , Golden ripples blog,
, accessed on 15 August 2007. Source of photo of Lutz and Owens at photos from the 1936 Games, Official Website of the Olympic Movement, 2007,
, accessed 15 August 2007. See also C. Tatz essay, Race, politics and sport , Sporting Traditions, the Journal of the Australian Society for Sports History, Vol. 1, No. 1, November 1984 or online version
, accessed on 3 April 2007.

[176]. M. Lewis, Obituary. Max Schmeling , The Guardian February 2005,, accessed on 12 December 2008. In a 1938 rematch, Louis defeated Schmeling in one round.

[177]. For more detail about the 1936 Olympics see R. Mandell, The Nazi Olympics, Macmillan, New York, 1971 or an online summary at The History Place, 2001,, accessed on 15 August 2007.

[178]. Martin, op. cit.

[179]. J. Mangan and F. Hong, (eds) Sport in Asian Society: past and present, Frank Cass, London, 2003 and an online version,
, accessed on 28 August 2007.

[180]. See A. Senn, Power, politics and the Olympic Games, Human Kinetics, Champaign 1999, for discussion.

[181].Olympic Charter, fundamental principle 5 of the Olympic Charter in force since 2004,, accessed on 7 September 2007.

[182]. For more details see C. Thornton, International politics and the Olympic Movement , DCTKD, 1996 2007 website, and On this day, 18 August,
, accessed on 23 August 2007. See also the chapter South Africa and the Olympic Games in C. Hill, Olympic Politics, Athens to Atlanta 1896 1996, (2nd edition), Manchester University Press, Manchester, 1996.

[183]. Libya, Kenya, Zambia, Nigeria, Gambia, Sudan, Ghana, Tanzania, Uganda, Algeria, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Central African Republic, Gabon, Chad, Togo, Niger, Congo, Mauritius, Upper Volta and Malawi were not present at the Opening ceremony. Iraq and Mauritius also joined the boycott. Egypt withdrew after the Opening Ceremony.

[184]. Previously in 1972, several African nations threatened to boycott the Olympics if Rhodesia, also ruled by whites, was allowed to compete. The IOC responded by barring Rhodesia from the Olympics

[185]. 1968. Student riots threaten Mexico Olympics , On this day 2 October,,
, accessed on 13 December 2207.

[186]. An interesting footnote, but one that went largely unnoticed at the time, was that the silver medallist, Australian Peter Norman, also participated in the protest by wearing an OPHR badge J. Gettings, Civil disobedience , Information Please, op. cit., Peter Norman died in 2006. Smith and Carlos were pallbearers at his funeral. M. Flanagan, Tell your kids about Peter Norman ,, 10 October 2006,
, accessed on 17 August 2007.

[187]. For American political movement of the 1960s, see brief summary at V. Hiltz and M. Sell, Black Power , University of Michigan, 1998,, accessed on 28 August 2007. See also Amy Bass discussion in Not the triumph but the struggle: the 1968 Olympics and the making of the black athlete, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, 2002.

[188]. Source for photo in Bitter price of Olympics iconic image , Los Angeles Daily News,, 17 October 2003,, accessed on 13 December 2007.

[189]. Independent Race and Refugee News Network, Athens Olympics under the shadow of anti-Muslim racism , 22 April 2004,, accessed on 13 December 2007.

[190]. J. Havely, The Olympics. A very political game ,, 13 July 2001,, accessed on 12 December 2007.

[191]. R. Espy, The Politics of the Olympic Games, University of California Press Berkeley, 1979, pp. 163 164.

[192]. For more detail see P. Reynolds, Suez: End of empire , BBC News 24 July 2006,, accessed on 28 August 2007.

[193]. For a more detailed history of the Suez crisis, see W. Lucas, Divided we stand, Britain, the US and the Suez crisis, Hodder and Stoughton, London, 1991.

[194]. For a brief history see 1956 Hungarian Revolution , Gati productions website,, accessed on 28 August 2007. For a more detailed history see F. Vali, Rift and revolt in Hungary: Nationalism versus communism, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass, 1961.

[195]. Cold War erupts at Melbourne Olympics , 7 December 1956, reprinted in special edition of Sydney Morning Herald, 18 April 2006,, accessed on 28 August 2007.

[196]. ibid.

[197]. J. Riordan, Elite Sport Policy in East and West , in L. Allison (ed), The Politics of Sport, quoted by L. Allison, The Olympic Movement and the end of the Cold War , World affairs, Fall 1994,, accessed on 29 August 2007.

[198]. ibid.

[199]. Senn, op. cit. p.101.

[200]. ibid.

[201]. Wally McNamee/Corbis at Bookrags website,, accessed on 23 August 2007.

[202]. The Americans had won every men s basket ball gold medal since 1936 and were shocked to lose in the final. They considered the Soviets had been given excessive chances to win. For a description of the game see F. Saraceno, USA Basketball, G. Brown, and the Basketball Hall of Fame article 1972 Munich Olympics. USA vs USSR Basketball Game ,, accessed on 29 August 2007.

[203]. J. Fitzpatrick, How the 1980 US Olympic hockey team created its Miracle on Ice,, accessed on 29 August 2007.

[204]. A. Tomlinson, Carrying the torch for whom? Symbolic power and Olympic ceremony , in Schaffer and Smith, op. cit., p.171.

[205]. Senn, op. cit. p.198.

[206]. Transcript of Reagan s speech accepting GOP nomination, New York Times, 24 August 1984, p. A/12 quoted in C. Torres and M. Dyreson, The Cold War Games , in Young and Wamsley, op. cit., p. 78.

[207]. (1) East Germany 51, (2) Soviet Union 47 and (3) Finland 24.

[208]. J. Longman, Olympics; US may seek to change medals won by East Germans , New York Times, 20 October 1998,
, accessed on 15 August 2007.

[209]. For a history of communist China see F. Schumman, Communist China: revolutionary reconstruction and international confrontation 1949 to the present, Penguin, Harmondsworth, 1971.

[210]. Beijing embraces Olympic Games , at 24 March 2007,
, accessed on 17 August 2007.

[211]. ibid.

[212]. China condemns Olympic torch relay refusal, labels vile precedent , Associated Press article in International Herald Tribune, 21 September 2007,
, 17 August 2007. Note: Since its commencement the torch relay has been the focus of protest from people supporting Tibetan independence from China. See for example, Protests at Olympic relay in London , 7 April 2008,,,23599,23496519-1702,00.html, accessed on 18 April 2008.

[213]. Staff writers, Opposition's Ma wins Taiwan presidential landslide; extends hand to China , Sino Daily, 23 March 2008,
accessed on 28 April, 2008.

[214]. See explanation in full at Official website of the Beijing Olympics,
, accessed on 14 January 2008.

[215]. See articles from the Olympic Watch Committee at Olympic watch ,
, accessed on 11 September 2007.

[216]. M. Campbell, Fair Games , GuardianUnlimted, 7 August 2007,, accessed on 14 January 2008. Not all commentators agree with this view. Some consider that awarding the Games to Beijing will not achieve these positive outcomes. See for example commentary on human rights issues in China on the Amnesty International website at or articles such as, Criticism mounts as Olympics draws near from the website 15 February, 2008,, accessed on 11 September 2008. Criticism of this sort has intensified since the beginning of the Olympic torch relay. See for example, IOC may scrap Olympic torch relay over protests , Times Online, April 8, 2008, , accessed on 8 April 2008.

[217]. Strategic comments, The Beijing Olympics. A focus for Chinese diplomacy , International Institute for Strategic Studies, Vol. 14, No. 2, March 2008.

[218]. ibid.

[219]. See some perspectives of the Tibetan situation at: The International Campaign for Tibet website and H. French, Letter from China: Separating fact from image on Tibet , International Herald Tribune, 26 September 2007,, accessed on 28 April 2008.

[220]. US/China: Human rights concern will have little impact, Oxford Analytica, 9 April , 2008.

[221]. E. Bulman, Olympics displace 2 million , Advisory Service for Squatters, 21 August 2007,, accessed on 18 October 2007.

[222]. Human rights abuses up as Olympics approaches , Asia News, 8 July 2007,, accessed on 10 September 2007.

[223]. See Play Fair 2008 report Child labour, forced labour and work experience in China the blurred lines of illegality, 2 August 2007, and statement, accessed on 13 September 2207. M. Fong, Beijing Games officials penalize firms , The Wall Street Journal, 1 August 2007, accessed on 13 September 2007 and PlayFair response to Beijing Olympic Organising Committee,
accessed on 13 September 2007.

[224]. M. Bristow, China hails car trial a success , BBC News, 21 August 2007,, accessed on 13 September 2007.

[225]. H. Schmundt, Pollution dangers cast shadow over 2008 Olympics , Spiegel online, 28 June 2007,,1518,491184,00.html, accessed on 13 September 2007.

[226]. A. Cha, Olympic trials for polluted Beijing , Washington Post 30 March 2007,
, accessed on 13 September 2007.

[227]. See Beijing Report 2007 to the United Nations Environment Program,
, accessed on 14 January 2008.

[228]. China to invest billions to remedy water pollution , Official Website of the Beijing Olympic Games 2008, 14 January 2008,, accessed on 16 January 2008.

[229]. See slideshow at accessed 28 April 2008.

[230]. Jacques Rogge, interview on BBC Hardtalk, 24 April 2002, Australia Tibet Council, Protesting the IOC s award of the 2008 Olympics to China , 9 August 2004, , accessed on 11 September 2007.

[232]. C. Hill, op. cit., pp. 170 171.

[232]. H. Sun-Joo, South Korea in 1988: a revolution in the making , Asian Survey, 29 (1), 1989, p.34, quoted in D. Black and S. Bezanson, The Olympic Games. Human rights and democratisation: lessons from Seoul and implications for Beijing , Third World Quarterly, 25, 7, 2004, p.1252.

[233]. J. Yardley, Beijing Olympics. Let the politics begin , International Herald Tribune, 13 August 2007,, accessed on 10 September 2007.

[234]. Strategic comments, op. cit.

[235]. Adapted from analysis in China: Policy under stress in Olympic Year, Oxford Analytica, 14 March, 2008.

[236]. R. Bennett, Olympics have become a sham , 1 September 2004,, accessed on 10 September 2007.

[237] J. Kelly, Chair, Arts, Culture and Education Committee, London Olympics 2012,, accessed on 10 September 2007.