To Go or Not to Go: An Examination of the Peoples Republic of China's Participation in the Olympic Games between 1980 and 1984

By Yu, Xiaowei | Proceedings: International Symposium for Olympic Research, Annual 2010 | Go to article overview
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To Go or Not to Go: An Examination of the Peoples Republic of China's Participation in the Olympic Games between 1980 and 1984


Yu, Xiaowei, Proceedings: International Symposium for Olympic Research


Introduction

With the unprecedented and unbeatable financial investment and almost perfect organizing and arrangement, the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games is generally considered one of the most successful and magnificent Games so far in the history of modern Olympic Games, which deserved the praise International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Rogge made at the Games' closing ceremony, a truly exceptional Games. It took the Chinese Olympic Committee (COC) and the Chinese government twenty-nine years from a just-officially-recognized member of the international Olympic family to a host of the most amazing Olympic Games for the world. The IOC re-accepted the COC as an formal member in November 1979 after a twenty-one-year isolation since the COC withdrew from the IOC and all International Sport Federations (ISFs) in 1958 due to the "two Chinas" issue. This issue erupted between the People's republic of China (PRC) and Taiwan; the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) had established the PRC, while the Chinese Nationalists Party (KMT) retreated to Taiwan in 1949.

Despite the COC was formally recognized by the IOC in 1979, it took the COC five years to make its significant debut at the 1984 Los Angeles Games. In 1980, responding the decision of the United States, the PRC government boycotted the Moscow Olympic Games. Unlike most of the countries from the communism camp that boycotted the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games, as a communist country, the PRC government sent athletes there and achieved excellent performances, thereby establishing a solid foundation upon which to build their future progress in the Olympic Games. The question why the PRC government chose the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games instead of the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games as the debut of the Chinese athletes on the global sport stage, which has not been responded to academically, and which few studies have paid attention to, was the main focus of this study. Around this research question, to address the void, this study investigated the historical facts regarding the development of the national sport and sport policies in China between 1980 and 1984, a critical transition in the history of Chinese sport. The PRC's reinstatement in the IOC took place during the period of the boycotts of the Moscow and Los Angeles Olympic Games happened, which were seen as a direct confrontation between the two superpowers. To appropriately cope with the boycotts, the Chinese government considered not only the factors in the sport domain, but also the factors in the international politics domain, especially, its relations with the two superpowers. Therefore, it is necessary to establish a basic understanding of Sino-Soviet Relations and Sino-US Relations from the 1950s to 1970s.

When the PRC was established in October 1949, Sino-Soviet Relations were cooperative and mutually supportive. The two countries signed the Treaty of Friendship, Alliance and Mutual Assistance in February 1950. During the following decade, the Soviet Union gave the PRC all possible military, technical, and financial help. According to Sheng, the Soviet Union believed if socialism was victorious in China and other communism countries, then victory of socialism throughout the world would be virtually secured. (1) Both Russian and Chinese scholars accept that the Treaty was highly important for the PRC to reconstruct the country at the time. (2) The friendly relationship between the two countries did not immediately change following the death of Stalin and Nikita Khrushchev becoming the successor in 1953. Despite Khrushchev's revision of the national policies, Sino-Soviet Relations was maintained between 1953 and 1958. (3) However, the argument and the ideological differences had already appeared between the two countries. (4) In 1958, the Sino-Soviet disagreement on the "Great Leap Forward (GLF)" initiated by Mao Zedong increased the misunderstanding. (5) As a result, Sino-Soviet Relations finally shifted from mutual cooperation to hostile confrontation at the beginning of the 1960s.

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