Tuesday, 31 January 2012

The African Boycott of Monreal 76

Having had a bit of a pop at the BBC over their sloppy reporting of the 2012 University Application statistics, BFTF is chuffed to be able to big-up the BBC over a programme that is screening on BBC4 even as I write this : "The World Against Apartheid".

The programme looks at the battle against Apartheid that was fought on the sporting fields of the world and is an absolute revelation.

One, frankly gobsmacking, story that was told related to Peter Hain, who was a prominent UK anti-apartheid activist in the 1970s. He was accused of robbing a branch of Barclays in 1974 but was aquitted, with his family claiming that he could not have left his house in time. Hain believes that the South African Bureau of State Security was responsible and that they had used a double to carry out the robbery. Hain wrote a book about his experiences called "The Putney Plot". You can read about the incident here and here.

And another event that BFTF has been unaware of occurred in 1976 and was focussed on New Zealand. . .

The 1972-75 Labour government had adopted a policy of blocking contacts with the South African Springboks rugby team. For a country where rugby is the major sport, this caused some division in society and the next election, in 1975 was won by the National Party, led by Robert Muldoon, who had campaigned on a policy of restoring sporting ties with Apartheid South Africa. In 1976, the New Zealand All Blacks rugby team undertook a tour of South Africa. This caused such outrage in Africa that 28 African counties boycotted the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal in protest at the presence of the New Zealand team at the event (South Africa had been banned from the Olympics since 1964).



If you were black, how angry would this make you?

The programme contained interviews with New Zealand sports correspondents at the '76 Games. They explained how they had been shocked to find that many of the black athletes at the Games had simply not wanted to speak to them becaues of the All Blacks tour. The correspondents had trouble understanding why anyone could think that the All Black tour was anything other than a wonderful sporting event! More info about the Sprinkboks in the 60s and 70s can be found here.

On the other hand, a BBC article states that the New Zealand Olympic Committee felt it was unfair to single them out as there had been 26 countries playing sport in South Africa that year.

As an aside, Austalia did not win a single gold medal at the '76 Games and threw such a collective wobbly at this failure that they set up the Australian Institute of Sport - which is one of the reasons they win so many gold medals now !

In more recent times, the All Blacks training has used out-of-the-box techniques such as this Marcel Marceau tribute routine


Image Source : All Blacks, Sign

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