Post-Olympism? Questioning Sport in the Twenty-First Century

By John Bale; Mette Krogh Christensen | Go to book overview

4
The Global, the Popular and the
Inter-Popular: Olympic Sport
between Market, State and
Civil Society
Henning Eichberg

The Boomerang

When the Olympics were arranged in Sydney 2000, the organizers placed a boomerang in the centre of the Games' logo. This pre-colonial throwing instrument was presented as symbolizing the idea of a ‘multicultural games’ and ‘cultural diversity in an harmonious society, which is nevertheless united in its patriotism’: Aboriginal culture should enter ‘the image and the identity’ of the games. For this purpose, a National Indigenous Advisory Committee was established, including representatives of the Aborigines and the Torres Strait Islanders. Besides the logo, the native Australians should also play a role in the Olympic festival of arts, in the protocol of the Olympic ceremonies, in the torch relay and in the design of Olympic medals. Additionally, an especially sponsored training camp for native athletes should be set up.

If one turns from the level of symbolic representation to concrete bodily activity, however, one does not find any boomerang throwing in the Olympic sports programme. Olympic sport is not only an arena of symbolic action, but also ‘real’ sport and in this field of activity, the Aboriginal contribution is missing. Olympic sport is Western sport. The absence of ‘the others’ not only is a question of the instrument (boomerang) and the related concrete activity, but also has its roots in the deeper patterns of sportive movement. Boomerang throwing, as well as Aboriginal games and dances in general, do not fit the basic achievement pattern of sport. That is why Aborigines may enter into the Anglo-Western sport of Australia, but their own movement culture has no relevance for Olympictype sport. Even an engaged antiracist history of Aboriginal sport will tell us about colonization and sportization, about suppression and emancipation, but

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