Kym sent me a ridiculously interesting article from the Ottawa Citizen about where many of the modern Olympic traditions came from. It’s called “What the torch symbolizes” by Dan Gardner. Remember how I was saying that the modern games have a long history of being used for political ends so it’s laughable when people say the Olympics shouldn’t be used for political purposes? It’s worse than I thought.
In an interesting parallel, trouble broke out on the Bulgarian-Yugoslav border when the 1936 Olympic torch relay passed through, not unlike what we’ve seen in the last few weeks. Protesters tried to disrupt the torch run while supporters of Germany tried to disrupt the protests.
Gardner’s article quotes historian David Clay Large’s book, Nazi Games,
Realizing that the Vienna demonstration could undercut Germany’s deeply disingenuous official stance that the 1936 games stood ‘entirely above politics,’ propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels ordered the German press not to play up the Austrian demonstration and to comment that ‘the use of the Olympic flame for political purposes is exceptionally regrettable.’
Seventy-two years later, same as it ever was.