Makes NZ Olympics

Boycott against the Olympic spirit

When Queen Elizabeth II opened the Games on July 17, 1976 in the Olympic Stadium in Montreal, 16 African teams were missing when the nations marched in. Just two days earlier, several National Olympic Committees of the black continent had written to the IOC, the International Olympic Committee, protesting against New Zealand's participation because their rugby team had played a game shortly before the Olympics in the apartheid state of South Africa:

"We have no other peaceful means against New Zealand's shameless support for the inhuman acts against Africans in South Africa than the request to the IOC to exclude New Zealand from participating in the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal. Should the IOC not heed this call for humanity , the affected NOCs of Africa reserve the right to reconsider their participation. "

With this demonstration of sport-political power, the Africans hoped to be able to exert enough pressure on the IOC again, as they did in earlier Olympics - 1964 in Tokyo, 68 in Mexico and 72 in Munich. At that time, the apartheid regimes of Rhodesia and South Africa were successfully excluded from participation.

In these cases, however, the IOC wanted to take a stand against racial discrimination. However, the committee saw the case of New Zealand more pragmatically - among other things, because one could not influence sports traffic in a non-Olympic sport, as the Vice President of the IOC Willi Daume emphasized after a decision meeting of only 20 minutes:

"The IOC passed a unanimous decision that New Zealand did not break the Olympic rules, so that there is no way to sanction New Zealand. It is now up to the Africans: Everyone has the right to decide whether to participate or not. I'm sure everyone will take part. I don't see any more danger in the African problem. "

A misjudgment of how it turned out. A total of 24 African teams left within the first Olympic week. The military regimes of Nigeria, Ghana and Ethiopia had come to an agreement the quickest and ordered their athletes who had already arrived to resign. Algeria, Morocco and others followed, also under pressure from the SCSA, the Supreme African Sports Council. He had hoped to collect international prestige and sympathy points with the boycott.

But only the South American Guiana finally showed solidarity with the African states. Otherwise there was little understanding. For example, IOC member Ahmeed Touny from Egypt warned:

"If we exclude everyone who does sports with South Africans, we are also damaging each other economically and culturally."

A clear indication of the financial dependence of many African countries on western industrialized countries, and the fact that since the last few months up to the start of the Games, athletes from 26 nations worldwide have met in competitions with South Africans. International press comments were therefore unanimous:

"New Zealand's worst crime is being a small country."

Golfers from Canada, for example, competed for the Commonwealth Trophy in Cape Town, South Africans played tennis at Wimbledon, and even Soviets competed with them at the World Trampoline Championships.

So far, threats to boycott by Africans had been supported by the Communist East. But now, behind the scenes, Soviet sports politicians had tried in vain to dissuade the Africans from their threats. "Der Spiegel" wrote about this on July 26, 1976:

"Moscow is not interested in a division of world sport. For victories against Malawi and Somalia, it is not worth spending millions in competitive sport. The Russians would rather win over Americans than over Africans in the future."

In addition, clear political support from the USSR might have jeopardized its own 1980 Olympics in Moscow. But it is known to represent the largest boycott in the history of the Olympic Games. While in Montreal in 1976 29 countries stayed away from the competitions or left prematurely, in Moscow there were 65 western countries four years later because of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.