The Political Olympics: Moscow, Afghanistan, and the 1980 U.S. Boycott

The Political Olympics: Moscow, Afghanistan, and the 1980 U.S. Boycott

The Political Olympics: Moscow, Afghanistan, and the 1980 U.S. Boycott

The Political Olympics: Moscow, Afghanistan, and the 1980 U.S. Boycott

Synopsis

In an international arena where the utility of military force may be declining, statesmen are inclined to search for alternative means of pursuing national policy. The manipulation of international sport is one such means. This book examines the 1980 U. S. boycott of the Olympic Games in order to assess the desirability and effectiveness of using international sport as a political instrument. Hulme reveals the pitfalls as well as the opportunities of such diplomacy by using the 1980 Olympic boycott as a framework. Concluding that the boycott was both a success and failure, Hulme challenges generally accepted views of employing sport as a political instrument.

Excerpt

Afghan president is ousted and executed in Kabul coup reportedly with Soviet help, New York Times, 28 December 1979

The movement of Soviet troops into Afghanistan on December 27, 1979, precipitated a chain of events that was ultimately to lead to the largest Olympic boycott in the history of the Games. Never before had the tool of sport been wielded on such a massive scale in order to punish politically an "offending" nation. While the politicizing of sport may be thought to be a recent phenomenon, sport and politics have been integrally related from ancient times. The 1980 Olympic boycott was unprecedented in scope, however, and as such served to draw attention to a dimension of sport not normally reflected upon: politics.

When Dr. Rolf Pauls, the West German ambassador to an emergency meeting in Brussels of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), broached the idea of a boycott of the upcoming Moscow Olympics as a retaliatory measure for Soviet actions in Afghanistan, little did he realize just what he had begun. Although Pauls's suggestion, put forth without the authorization of his government and much to its dismay, elicited a degree of interest, no firm commitments were either sought or received. However, within official U.S. governmen0tal circles, the idea of a boycott quickly gained supporters, the most important of whom was President Jimmy Carter. Concluding that "direct military action on our part was not advisable," Carter proceeded to review his . . .

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