The Rings and the Swastika: Political Ambiguity in Sport before and during Second World War
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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OriginalversjonInternational Journal of the History of Sport. 2019, 36(11), 998-1012. 10.1080/09523367.2019.1687448
As the Second World War emerged, sport's context changed from a sense of normalcy to increased political tension and eventually to war. Sports organizations in one way or another had to adapt. What happens to the claimed ‘un-political sport’ when the context in which it takes place becomes ever more politicized? Should sport take a stand or should it stick to the favourite position of Western sporting officials in the 1930s that ‘sport and politics should not mix’? Examining the small, occupied nations in Europe in particular helps answer these questions, as does considering the attitudes and politics of the international sports organizations in the critical years leading into the war: Was it possible to keep the Olympics going? What happened is explored based on recent research with primary and secondary sources, archive materials from the IOC and other organizations, as well as international research literature. Sport’s symbolic ambiguity as it related to peace and war was reflected in the different ways in which sportspeople and organizations reacted to WWII. Sport embraced contrasting actions, boycott and participation, watching and resisting, and still came out seemingly unstained. This enabled the idea of sport as a mainly un-political phenomenon to persist.
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