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The Breakup of the All-German Olympic Team (October 11, 1968)

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A Lost Dream

Ulbricht achieved his political goal in Mexico City as well, namely, to demonstrate the two-state theory by means of two German teams. Only small details were lacking for him. He was not allowed to show the “hammer and compass flag,” and instead of the Becher hymn, the Schiller-Beethoven Ode to Joy would be played. These alternative solutions will no longer apply in 1972 in Munich.

Avery Brundage of Chicago, the idealistic 81-year-old president of the International Olympic Committee, has therefore already failed. He tried in vain to “keep politics out of sports.” But politics take precedence over sports in the Eastern bloc, and it doesn’t appear to be any different in the neutral world.

Brundage and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) also had to capitulate in another political arena, that of the racial struggle. Through their comprehensive, Soviet-backed threat to boycott the 1968 Olympics, Third World politicians forced the IOC to rescind its majority decision to allow white and black South African athletes to participate.

Just as international political conflicts were once fought on historic battlefields, today they are fought on Olympic grounds. Humanity’s old romantic dream of the Olympic Games has come to an end; what a wistful realization.

Source: Adolf Metzner, “Zwischen Panzern und Prestige. Die Olympischen Spiele von Mexiko” [“Between Tanks and Prestige. The Olympic Games of Mexico”], Die Zeit, October 11, 1968.

Translation: Allison Brown

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