Academic journal article Proceedings: International Symposium for Olympic Research

Waltzing on Ice: Lake Placid, the Carter Doctrine, and China's Return to the Olympics

Academic journal article Proceedings: International Symposium for Olympic Research

Waltzing on Ice: Lake Placid, the Carter Doctrine, and China's Return to the Olympics

Article excerpt

Following the conclusion of the three-day Executive Board meeting of the International Olympic Committee in Nagoya, Japan in late October 1979, the IOC President Lord Killanin submitted a resolution concerning the "two-Chinas" issue to the eighty-nine IOC members for a postal vote. The resolution recognized the Olympic Committee in Beijing under the name of "Chinese Olympic Committee." It also designated the name "Chinese Taipei Olympic Committee" to the body that represented Taiwan. While the Chinese Olympic Committee was allowed to use the anthem and flag of the People's Republic of China, the resolution ordered the Taipei committee to change its anthem and flag by January 1, 1980 in order to take part in the forthcoming Winter and Summer Olympic Games. A month later on November 26, 1979, the IOC announced at its headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland that the resolution had been approved by an overwhelming majority of the IOC's members. (1)

The "Nagoya Resolution" was intended to bring athletes from both mainland China and Taiwan into the Olympic competition. While it technically ensured the return of the People's Republic of China to the Games after nearly three decades, (2) it left the status of the Republic of China in jeopardy, as perceived by the Taiwanese and their supporters. Responding to the "Nagoya Resolution," Taiwan filed two lawsuits at the Lausanne Civil District Court in January 1980, one by its Olympic Committee in Taipei, and the other by Henry Hsu, the IOC member from Taiwan, against the IOC for violating its own "Olympic charter." Taiwan also sought a court injunction to temporarily block the IOC ruling so that athletes from Taiwan could compete under past conditions in the forthcoming Olympic Games at Lake Placid and Moscow. (3) Taiwan's actions, or reactions to the IOC resolution, not only brought the controversial "two Chinas" issue back to the center stage of the Olympic movement, but also added fuel to the resurging Cold War international politics.

For three decades since the communists seized control of mainland China and drove the nationalist regime to Taiwan in 1949, the "two Chinas" issue had haunted the Olympic Games and prevented, to a greater extent, the presence of communist China in the Olympic movement.

In 1952, the IOC invited both the People's Republic of China and the Republic of China to the Helsinki Games without officially recognizing the Olympic committee in Beijing. (4) The official recognition came two years later at the IOC's 49th session in Athens, when the name "Olympic Committee of the People's Republic of China" was designated to Beijing. The membership of the ROC, however, remained unchanged resulting in the co-existence of "two Chinas" in the Olympic movement. (5) The PRC, seeing itself as the sole legitimate ruler of China, refused to participate in the 1956 Games in protest against the participation of the ROC delegation. (6)

During the Cold War with the Soviet Union and the United States vying for international dominance and Olympic laurels, the "two Chinas" became pawns of the superpowers in a chess match between Eastern communism and Western democracy. The Soviets wanted the PRC to be the sole representative of China; the Americans fought to keep the ROC as a legitimate member in the IOC and the United Nations. The IOC tried to maintain the status quo with a "two-Chinas" policy but only aroused protest from both sides.

The PRC wanted to be recognized as the legitimate representative of China and have the ROC expelled from the IOC. Unable to achieve this goal, Beijing withdrew from the IOC and eight international sports federations in 1958. (7) In its official statement on severing relations with the IOC, the Beijing Olympic committee condemned the IOC, controlled by Avery Brundage, for willingly serving as a tool of the U.S. in creating a 'two-Chinas' situation. In the eyes of the Chinese communists, Brundage was nothing but "an imperialist who has sneaked into [the IOC] to serve the political schemes of the U. …

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