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.Prof. Radu Ababei, PhD, Vasile Alecsandri University of Bacau

.Prof. Catalina Ababei, PhD,  Vasile Alecsandri University of Bacau




Sports, whether seen as  a competition or as a hobby, have become a well-known

social force with a great impact on society. In all countries, the sports' message and values rendered by their representatives reach out to the majority of the population, irrespective of their social background.This is why, in many cases, the political situations at a certain moment influenced the development and the organization of the Olympic Games, and moreover,  these influences

extended to the continental and regional games.

Key words: influence, politic, olympic games


            1948 – LONDON –14th edition

            After 40 years, London hosts again an Olympic manifestation. In England, as in many other countries, the marks of war were deeply felt, this being the reason why the competition was called "games of austerity". But eventually, with all the sacrifices accepted by the athletes (the lack of food, which was rationalized, the insufficiency and constant failure of transportation methods, the unfit accommodation conditions in the Royal Air Force barracks), the Olympic spirit won.

            The large participation of world's countries and athletes to the Olympic Games, in a time when the wounds of war were not yet healed, fully demonstrated the youth's desire for closeness and bonding, to confront their forces and virtues in the sportive arenas and not on the battlefield, their attachment to the Olympic ideals.

            It is worth mentioning that this edition of the Olympic Games was organized by the most powerful European nation at that time, a winner in the war, the nation with the highest advantages after the peace treaty signed by Churchill, who after the war is no longer a Prime-Minister.

            Germany and Japan, being responsible for starting World War II, were forbidden to participate in the Olympic Games.

            At this edition, at which the Olympic pictograms appear and the age of Emil Zatopek begins, also appears the first case of political asylum: the Czechoslovakian gymnast Maxie Provaznikova will remain in the West.

            1952 – HELSINKI – 15th edition

            When the capital of the "country of 1000 lakes" was chosen to host the Olympic Games, it was not really a choice, but a restitution – because Helsinki should have hosted in 1940 the Olympic Games instead of Tokyo, the intentions of both capitals being undermined by the war.

            This was a gesture of gratitude addressed to the nation that showed a constant and valuable participation at the Olympic competitions, well-known through its long-distance runners.

            An important step forward for the universality of the Olympic movement was to receive among its ranks in 1951 the Soviet Union athletes – a major sportive power, which makes its appearance in the Olympic world.

After the war, the sports had to face the needs of political realities. The world had been divided by the great powers in two camps: one, communist and one, capitalist. In 1952, with the first participation of the USSR, the Cold War began also on the Olympic stadium. The Cold War lasted until the ‘80s, and the political rivalries between the USA and the USSR almost destroyed the Olympic Games.

Also in this edition the representatives of socialist countries are returning, whose ties with the rest of the Olympic movement during the war and immediately after it were broken.

These countries include Romania.

            The communists realized that the Romanian athletes can be the ambassadors of a country which "is on its way to complete the soviet socialism" and thus they began to subsidize the sport.

            The heavy subsidizing of Olympic sports and especially military sports materialized in obtaining the first Romanian Olympic gold medal, through Iosif Sîrbu, in shooting.

            USSR begins brilliantly in the first participation, achieving 2nd place in general ranking and the Soviet Olympic champion in Greco-Roman wrestling (category + 87 kg) Kothas Johannes, received the Order of Lenin when he returned to his country.

1956 – MELBOURNE – 16th edition

            Olympism conquered new territories. Leaving Europe and America, the Olympics are appearing for the first time in Australia. The I.O.C. Congress of Rome in 1949 chose this city, preferring it to Budapest and Lausanne.

            Due to prohibitive Australian laws, which forbade the entry of horses in British dominion, horse racing took place in Stockholm, from June 10 to 17, involving 29 countries.

            O series de champions, such as: Lev Iashin and Netto Igor in football, Vladimir Kuţ – double champion in athletics – were given the Order of Lenin in Moscow.

            Following the soviet model of using the athletes as role models to promote communism ,,on the highest peaks", the Romanian athletes Nicolae Linca –Olympic boxing champion – and Leon Rotman – double Olympic champion in canoe (1 – 1000 m and 1 – 10.000 m) also received the ,,Order of Labour Second Class" – an order of state handed by Mihail Sadoveanu himself.

            The Hungarian Olympic champion Papp Laszlo (categ. 71 kg), who also won Olympic medals in 1948 and 1952, will be the only boxer from a socialist country to go professional.

            Switzerland, Spain and the Netherlands boycotted the Olympic Games as a protest against the invasion of Hungary by the USSR.

            The IOC facilitated in 1956 establishment of a united German team, including on the basis of full equality, representatives of East Germany and West Germany. East Germany had a special situation within the Olympic movement. Originally, the GDR was not recognized as a nation, except in the eastern block countries, especially the USSR.

            At the end of World War II, Germany was divided into zones of occupation by the U.S.A, USSR, Great Britain and France.

            Recognition of the GDR Olympic Committee - was a sportive but at the same time diplomatic victory.

            1960 – ROME – 17th edition

            This edition of the Olympic games as the significance of closing a historical cycle, by bringing back to Rome the competition that was abolished by emperor Theodosius.

            The option for the "eternal city" was signed at the Paris IOC Congress, in 1955, being in competition with Lausanne.

            We note the participation of African countries (many were colonies) in which stands a former bodyguard of the Emperor of Ethiopia, who used to accompany him on foot along the coach and who was to win the marathon, running barefoot, becoming the hero of the Olympics - Abebe Bikila.          

1964 – TOKYO – 18th edition

            Full of excitement has been, for most of the participants, the organization of the Olympic Games for the first time in the world of the Extreme Orient, an area with an old culture and civilisation, whose people, so different, regarding the mentality, habits and preferences, sometimes seemed incomprehensible to the Europeans. Japan had been waiting for this event for 24 years, being frustrated in the past by the war.

            The Olympic flame was carried on to the stadium by Ioshinoni Sakai, a 20 years-old man, born in the day of the Hiroshima atomic bombardment. It was a symbol, but how many people have understood it? How many people have taken it into consideration?

            The soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina – double Olympic champion in 1964, triple champion in Rome in 1960 and quadruple in 1956 – received the Order of Lenin.

            1964 is the year when in Barcelona was decided that South Africa was to be excluded from the Olympic Games. This country had participated in the Olympics during 1904 – 1960. Due to the apartheid regime imposed by the racist government in Pretoria, South Africa's Olympic Committee was not invited to the Olympics in 1964 and 1968. Subsequently, IOC, in its session in Amsterdam, May 15, 1970, excluded this country's OC from the Olympic movement.

1968 – MEXICO – 19th edition

            The IOC decision to organize the Olympic Games in 1968 in Mexico City, at 2260 m, has attracted many reservations and criticisms, expressing the belief that high altitude will be a serious impediment to the proper conduct of racing. There were opinions that the health of athletes would be jeopardized, and adaptation in 6 to 8 days to local conditions is nothing but Mexican propaganda, asking the host city to be changed and reaching even threats to boycott. But pre-Olympic racing and sports medical measures have led to an appropriate adjustment.

In the first edition in which the timing was exclusively electronic, and were brought plaid track, it was also done for the first time a control of femininity. It was the first Olympics in which anabolic steroids were widely used.

            Tommie Smith (SUA) –200 m Olympic champion, together with Carlos John (both being African-American athletes), during the premiere festivities raised their right fist with a black glove, as a protest against the racial discrimination in the USA. The management of the USA team excluded them from the Olympic village.

            Vincent Matthews (USA) - Olympic champion in 4 x 100 m, was excluded from the U.S. team for his attitude of protest to the solemnity of handing medals in individual samples and did not take part in the 4 x 400 m sample, from which the U.S. withdrawed.

            The Romanian Ion Drîmbă – Olympic fencing champion remained in Mexico, managing to escape from his delegation. His results are not mentioned in any of the Romanian journals of the period. It is easy to imagine why.

            With 10 days before the opening of the Olympic Games, 250 students died tragically during an event against the billions spent by the Mexican Government for the Olympic Games ($ 176 million just for construction and sports facilities), while west of the country was touched by poverty (have taken measures of collecting the beggars off the streets of the Mexican capital for a better picture).

1972 – MUNICH – 20th edition

            Munich was invested in 1966 in Rome, in competition with Montreal, Madrid and Detroit. This city's Oberwiesenfeld reborn from the ashes, after the war became a deposit of debris.

The "Olympics of short distances" as it was called due to proximity sporting facilities, has enjoyed a very large participation and an excellent way.

It should be noted that the Romanians have sent about 300 workers builders, who have helped to raise the base buildings and Olympic village.

An original fact was the copying, before the Olympics, by the GDR, of the slalom canoe circuit from Zwivikal and placing it in Augsburg, a place in which the GDR athletes trained and, as a result, in Munich had a better performance than the west-German athletes.

Russian athlete Valery Borzov - double Olympic champion in athletics, received the Order of Lenin.

Just 24 hours before the games' commencement is the exclusion of the racist Rhodesia from the Olympics team, which makes the African countries to participate in the contest with all the numbers announced.

Titled "Tragic incident in the Olympic Village", newspaper "Scanteia" for Wednesday, July 6, 1972 reported: 'In the early morning of Tuesday, a Palestinian guerrilla group of armed men entered the building in the Olympic Village was Israeli sports delegation, killed 2 athletes and taken as hostages to 9 people - DPA Agency informs action was later claimed by the Palestinian organization, "Black September", whose members have addressed the Israeli government an ultimatum, with a range of conditions for release hostages. "

Germans, stalled all day, and the Olympics were suspended because they needed time to be called Palestinians.

In an official statement given to the public in Munich, Anvery Brundage, IOC President, and Willi Daume, President of the Organizing Committee of Olympic Games announced that it decided to suspend competitions under the program in the afternoon of Tuesday, with except those that are ongoing. IOC and Olympic Organizing Committee have decided that the day of September 6, at 10 am local Olympic Stadium have been a funeral rite. President of Germany, Gustav Heineman said he would attend the ceremony. This is the first time in modern Olympic Games when races are interrupted in the middle of their deployment.

In the Munich airport, when terrorists and athletes crossed from the plane to the helicopters the fire was opened. The balance was after the massacre was sad: all the 9 hostages were dead, 2 terrorists also and 3 other terrorists were wounded.

All around the world, the terrorist attack against the Olympic Games in Munich is resolutely condemned. Political assassination Olympics place a major blow against the noble meaning of the Olympic Games, guided by the fundamental idea of uniting athletes from around the world, under fair competition, thereby establishing peaceful relations.

1976 – MONTREAL – 21st edition

            After St. Louis and Los Angeles, Olympic competition is organized this time in Montreal, the city of the World Exhibition held in several years ago and which obtained the votes of IOC against Moscow and Los Angeles.

The main (opening) ceremony bore the stamp of political and cultural scenes of the period: the alphabetical order was adopted in French for presenting the delegations, emphasizing the role of French in Quebec and Canada. Olympic flag bearers and those accompanying them were 12 in number and representing the 10 provinces and 2 territories of Canada, reflecting the pan-canadianism which was prevalent at that time.

The two carriers of the torch, an English-speaking young man from Toronto and a French-speaking young man from Montreal, symbolizing the two founding peoples of Canada, reflected Canada's cultural duality, a concept that was wide-spread at the time.

There were some serious issues that created moments of deadlock. First was the so-called "Taiwanese crisis", resolved by not receiving them at the Olympics, because Canada had no diplomatic relations with this country. The second was the result of the next episode: a New Zealand rugby team played a match with a South African team, thus breaking the general consensus of the isolation imposed by the whole world to a country where apartheid is official policy. Most African countries have protested against this game and the delegation's presence at the Olympic Games to New Zealand withdrawing its teams. Thus, a total of 17 African and Arab states have announced their withdrawal.

But passing over this difficult moment, the Olympics have succeeded in the end, as they did on other occasions, showing their great vitality and strength to survive.

            Before the opening of the Olympic Games, 17 years old Soviet gymnast Sergei Nemtsanov, sought political asylum. Accusing the act of indiscipline, the USSR requested his extradition threatening to enter a deadlock regarding the diplomatic relations. Fortunately, Nemtsanov returned.

            On the other hand, Nicolai Adrianov – the soviet gymnast Olympic champion in 1972 and 1976 received the Order of Lenin, as recognition from the Communist Party of his merits.

            Nadia Comăneci wins 3 gold medals and becomes the heroine of the Olympic Games.

            When she returned in the country, Nicolae Ceauşescu personally hands her the title of "Hero of the socialist labour" and the "Sickle and Hammer" golden medal. It is very interesting to analyse the situation. Until that moment, very few people received that title, which was purely political, and none of them belonged to the world of sports.

            Realizing the importance of Nadia's performances, Ceauşescu contours the image of a champion arrived at the highest peaks through the care of the Communist Party. But, we wonder, why did he not proceded in a similar manner with the Los Angeles athletes, who managed to rank the Romanians amongst the first 3 nations?

            Also Dâba Vasile, the other gold medallist at this Olympics was repaid, but only with the "Order of Labour – First Class".



Ababei, C., Ababei, R., - Repere istorice în evoluţia exerciţiului fizic, Ed. Alma Mater, Bacău, 2003

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Bănciulescu. V. - Mexico '68, Breviar olimpic", Ed. Consiliului Naţional pentru Educaţie Fizică şi Sport, 1968

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Studiu privind influenţa politicii asupra Jocurilor Olimpice între anii 1948-1980


Sportul, indiferent dacă este vorba de un concurs sau reprezintă un hobby, a devenit un fenomen social cu un mare impact asupra societăţii. In toate ţările, mesajul de sport "şi valorile promovate de către reprezentanţii săi sunt însuşite de majoritatea  populaţiei, indiferent de pătura socială. Implicaţiile sociale ale sportului reprezintă motivul pentru care, în multe cazuri, situaţiile politice ale unui moment dat, au influenţat desfăşurarea şi organizarea Jocurilor Olimpice şi, în plus aceste influenţesunt extinse la jocuri continentale şi regionale.

Cuvinte cheie: influenţă, politică, Jocuri Olimpice

Etude sur l'influence de la politique sur les jeux olympiques 1948 - 1980


Le sport, soit comme une concurrence, soit comme un passe-temps, est devenu une force sociale avec un grand impact sur la société. Dans tous les pays, le message et les valeurs des sports rendus par ses représentants touchent à la majorité de la population, indépendamment de leur milieu social. C'est pourquoi, dans beaucoup de cas, les situations politiques d'un certain moment ont influencé le dévelopment et l'organisation des Jeux Olympiques, tout comme celui des jeux continentaux et régionaux.

Mots-clé: influence, politique, Jeux Olympiques

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