Monday, June 21, 2010


I have always thought that people who think sports and politics shouldn't mix are crazy- crazy because whether they like it or not, sports and politics have and do mix in myriad ways.  It exists in every aspect of sport- in the selection of Olympic cities, in Michael Jordan draping an American flag around him to cover the Reebok insignia on his track suit, in John Carlos and Tommy Smith's silent salute in Mexico.

One of the most powerful sporting images of the Twentieth Century is of Carlos and Smith who climbed onto the podium after the 100m sprint wearing no shoes to symbolise the poverty of black Americans, their gloved fists raised to acknowledge the Black Power Movement, and their heads cast down in mourning for the suffering of their people, and stood in protest.  Here were two men whose people, in 1968, were denied the most basic human rights, but who were brought to Mexico to win gold for their country.

Gymnastics is a sport that has not been free of political machinations either.  Think of the boycott of the Russians of the Los Angeles Olympics.  Think of the way the US broadcasters always played up the USSR vs USA Cold War tropes in their fluff pieces, and continue to do it in their stories of orphaned, poor Chinese children who give up their lives and parents for their country.

And, as another reader reminded me, their has even been a podium protest in gymnastics.
It is 1968 again, and Russia has just invaded the homeland of one of the sports greatest heroes, Vera Caslavska.
Here is how she responded to the Russians invading Czeckhoslovakia;




  1. Those beehives! I love them! Think we can encourage A-Sac to bring them back?

  2. ohh no wonder, I'm from the Czech republic. Vera Caslavska had had really difficult life. But now she is finally getting involved to the gymnastics again :)