By Dikaia Chatziefstathiou;Ian P. Henry

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Extra info for Discourses of Olympism: From the Sorbonne 1894 to London 2012

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This movement fell short, when the IOC announced its faith in Berlin for hosting the Games. However, it had succeeded in exercising pressure on the IOC, and thus the President, Count-Baillet Latour, demanded guarantees from the Nazis that they would abide by the Olympic rules and would reassure the IOC that there would be no discrimination against athletes on the grounds of race or religion (Guttmann 1992; Toohey and Veal 2000). There were debates in the USA about the possibility of a boycott. George Messersmith, USA Secretary of State, arguing against US involvement in Berlin Olympics, declared (November 1935), To the party and the youth of Germany, the holding of the Olympic Games in Berlin in 1936 has become the symbol of the conquest of the world by National Socialist doctrine.

It was not until 1889 that Coubertin decided to try to revive the Games, and thus he devoted the next five years to the preparation of the International Congress of Sportsmen in 1894 (Hill 1992). A number of scholars (Hoberman 1986; Kidd 1996; MacAloon 1996a) argue that Coubertin’s revival of the Olympic Games aimed at revitalising French society and reducing the imperialist rivalries of the European powers and the growing likelihood of war, with the possibility of further French defeat. To a certain extent, Coubertin changed the focus of his interests over the years.

In theory, sport offered a sphere of cultural liberation for women who had been oppressed by the restrictive Victorian dress code and ‘body culture’ (Roche 2000). Nonetheless, the IOC, in contrast to the idealistic claims of their Olympic values, was profoundly sexist, formally banning women from participation in the Olympics in 1912 (Hargreaves 1994). Women’s response to this exclusionary attitude was similar to that of working class and socialist organisations discussed earlier, namely they formed their own international association.

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