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There are different examples in the Olympics, which deal with racist issues. Six main examples of this are quite well documented such as race, stacking and centrality, incorporation of non-whit athletes, Berlin Olympics 1936, ‘Black Power’ and South Africa’s apartheid views.
Stereotyping has played a part towards racial issues in the Olympics. Attitudes towards minority groups often include negative stereotypes. These minorities have then tried to promote a positive image to remove their negative stereotype. Stereotyping affects the role of stacking and centrality, many racial issues all fall back to what the majority think minorities are like.
For example, the two Zulu tribesmen that competed in the games of 1904, mainly just for the attraction of larger crowds because of poor attendance. They were basically used for ‘novelty value’. Stacking has come about from expanding immigration policies. It involves a country with a large multi-national presence e.g. England or USA etc.
Stacking acts a blockade towards cultural influence. In the Olympics stacking blocks minorities competing on a regular basis.
When the Olympics began immigration was obviously low. This meant many of the minority groups were nowhere near the tops of the ‘pecking order’. In the Olympic context this meant that the white western Europeans were dominant. Every year this is changing, generally for the better. The growth of sporting scholarships for black Americans independence for many former colonies and the development of non-racial programmes of excellence has reduced the focus of white centrality. The fact that the number of participating countries has risen from 14 to 197 just shows the changes occurring.
The success of some minority groups has gained prestige for their country, changing people stereotypical views. There has been growing agitation from ethnic and racial groups plus the denial of access towards racial groups was indefensible.
A very famous racial issue that affected the Olympics was Jesse Owens in the 1936 Berlin Olympics. When Jesse Owens had to face Hitler’s policy of Aryan supremacy and the subjugation of other races America started to review Her policy. Americans had not been subjected to examine their own views on racial issues and they were horrified when faced with attitudes that blatantly ‘stacked’ races. After this episode racial issues especially in American sports and the Olympics changed considerably.
South Africa’s policy of Apartheid has also been a major factor in Olympic history. They were not allowed to compete in the Olympics from 1964 to 1992 due to the discrimination between Black and White races. This is showing that strong racist issues such as those were not being tolerated, the Olympics were starting to reflect world union, and everyone is equal. It caused major problems in the Montreal games 1976 because many African nations boycotted the games. They were in protest at New Zealand entering, because the New Zealand rugby team, the ‘All Blacks’, had toured South Africa, where apartheid was practiced. Finally though in 1992 South Africa abolished Apartheid and was allowed back into the Barcelona games.
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