An argument for the struggles to de-racialise South African sport: The Olympic Movement’s response, 1896-1946
This historical review examines the background to the struggles against inequality, discrimination and the fight to deracialise South African sport. South Africa has a long history of racial discrimination. The struggles for political freedom and for all-race-inclusive or non-racial sport were generally intertwined. The sports struggle’s methods and tactics evolved with time given their duration and complexity. This review aims to undertake an historical overview of the influences and precursors to the initiation of the struggles to deracialise South African sport, which culminated in the sports boycott in the 1960s. This is critical particularly if the view that history teaches respect for insights from the past is held and appreciated. Britain and South Africa have always been strategically linked and important to each other and as such the former became the main target of black people’s diplomatic efforts after 1910. By the 1950s, the oppressed people’s hope had shifted to the United Nations, the newly-independent African states and the Olympic Movement. South Africa’s official participation in the Olympic Games between 1908 and 1960 racially discriminated against black sportspersons; the early challenge to this problem was observed in the 1940s but radical struggles began in the 1950s. The Non-Racial Sports Movement (NRSM) and the Anti-Apartheid Movement undertook protracted struggles to deracialise South African sport. The NRSM petitioned and challenged the constituents of the Olympic Movement, locally and abroad, for support to resolve the racial problem in the country’s sport, until the International Olympic Committee expelled the racist National Olympic Committee of South Africa in 1970. The sports struggles however continued until they were controversially halted in the early 1990s. This is a literature study and is grounded in a qualitative, historical descriptive research design, with the aim of generating a body of knowledge to contextualise the background influences to the initiation of the early challenge to South Africa’s racial sports problem, between 1890s and the 1940s.
Keywords: sport, struggles, boycott, non-racial, equality, Colour-bar, apartheid, politics