With the 1976 Olympics moving towards their close, the political troubles have been pushed into the background -- for the time being.
With the 1976 Olympics moving towards their close, the political troubles have been pushed into the background -- for the time being. But for those who are beginning to look ahead to the Commonwealth Games in Edmonton in 1978 and the next Olympiad in Moscow in 1980, these problems have yet to be resolved.
SYNOPSIS: The decision that the Games should go on, as official Olympics, after about 30 countries had withdrawn, was taken for the sake of the athletes. Their relief that their training would not be in vain was tinged with regret that they would not now compete against famous stars withdrawn.
There were two separate political disputes facing the International Olympic Committee, under its President, Lord Killanin. One involved the host government, Canada. The Prime Minister, Mr. Pierre Trudeau, insisted that, since Canada recognised the People's Republic of China, it could not allow athletes from Taiwan to take part under the name "Republic of China".
For the Taiwanese, Mr. Lawrence Teng said that his team could not accept any compromise:
The other dispute concerned African opposition to New Zealand's rugby football tour of South Africa. Lord Killanin gave the Committee view:
Most of the African governments took the view that it was their business, and demanded the exclusion of New Zealand. When this was refused, they pulled out their own teams.
Guyana and several Arab states supported the Africans, and about 400 athletes and team officials were told to pack their bags and come home. In Montreal, schedules had to be hurriedly rearranged. Track events and boxing were particularly badly hit by the withdrawal of some of the strongest competitors.
One official decision was taken at Montreal against South Africa itself: expulsion from the International Amateur Athletic Federation for practising discrimination. The Federation Chairman, Lord Exeter:
There was another dispute, industrial rather than political, and now almost forgotten, that once menaced the Games. A technicians' strike threatened to cut off world television coverage, except in Canada and the United States. But a provisional settlement of their pay demand was reached two days before the Games began.
The question now is whether the Kenyan and other African teams will be seen at the Commonwealth Games in two years time -- if New Zealand takes part. Official African opinion is adamant that the New Zealand government must dissociate itself from even appearing to support sporting ties between New Zealand and South Africa.