Translated by Catherine A. Fitzpatrick
Since morning the sky had been covered with clouds. Towards noon, rain began to fall. But neither the gloomy sky nor the rain, now pouring down, now letting up, could disturb the festive mood reigning in the capital.
This mood had been felt in the capital and beyond its bounds long before the beginning of the holiday. Already foreign visitors were being met at the border with smiles. The formalities of customs were taking up only a few minutes. The streets of the main city were decorated in all possible colors, among which red—the color of the State flag—dominated. Portraits of the leaders looked down from the walls. The poster with the holiday's emblem, famous throughout the world—the five intertwined rings—adorned the windows of stores, houses, and State institutions.
Not only the capital itself was transformed; its people were, as well. Just recently the menacing keepers of the peace had bid farewell to their somber uniforms, an indispensable part of which had been a gun, and now they looked like respectable gentlemen. Well-briefed translators were ready to fulfill the foreign visitor's every request. There started to be less soldiers on the streets.…
As I read these reports from Olympic Berlin, I could not get rid of the feeling that I was familiarizing myself not with what had been but with what was to come. The futuristic "Reports from the Olympics" came to mind—reports that Soviet Sport had been printing for a few years already. They mention the smooth running of transportation, the obliging translators, and the excellent service for visitors.
I had gone to the New York City Public Library to read the accounts of the XI Olympic games from 42 years ago. A library employee, who had not asked me for my ID nor for a permission slip from my place of work nor for my home address nor even "for what purposes?" brought me two boxes of microfilm containing the New York Times from the first half of August 1936. I loaded the reel, turned on the screen, and plunged into reading the newspapers. Once I must have cried out, because a young man sitting next to me leaned over and said, "Are you all right?" I indicated the screen to him. The man half stood up to read what I was pointing to. "That's history," he said indifferently.
History! The words of Dr. Goebbels did not affect him at all. "Everyone must be a host," said Herr Goebbels, addressing Berliners on the eve of the Olympics. "The future of the Reich will also depend on what feeling our visitors will leave with."
"Every Muscovite must feel himself a host. Whether or not good impressions are carried away of Moscow and our socialist motherland will depend on all of us together and each of us separately," said A. Valiakhmetov, an official in the propaganda department of the Sports Committee, at a meeting of sports journalists in 1975.
Forty-two years ago, the voice of Goebbels resounded throughout Berlin, addressing athletes of the world: "Germany is your friend! Germany seeks only peace, and only Germany has the power to enforce it!"
In July of 1962, Brezhnev, not as yet general secretary, but just president, said in Moscow at the opening of the 59th session of the International Olympic Committee (IOC): "A lasting peace, total equality, mutual understanding and trust between States, regardless of the differences in their social systems—this is the general course of our foreign policy."
MOSCOW MAKES ITS MOVE
"NATO countries exploit sports as a weapon of their aggressive policy."
"The class struggle will find its place in international athletic ties as well."
"The propaganda of the apolitical—that sports are outside of politics—is nothing other than one of the methods imperialist circles use in ideological subversion aimed at countries of the socialist camp."
Are these quotations taken from an editorial in Soviet Sports? From a report by the director of the Soviet Sports Committee's propaganda department? From some sports figure's speech before a military academy audience? No, no, and no again! They are from a "scholarly work" entitled International Athletic Cooperation, which is recommended by the Sports Committee as a textbook for students in institutes of physical education.
And what year was the book published? During the Cold War? The Cuban Missile Crisis? The Prague Spring? Certainly not! The year was 1973, at the rosy dawn of detente. The book was published in Moscow, which was already persistently trying to be named the Olympic capital. But when in October 1974 the mayor of Moscow went to Vienna, where the IOC was to decide who would host the XXII Olympic games—Moscow or Los Angeles—he did not bring with him a work exposing NATO's subversive activity in sports. He brought a picture album of Moscow. And at a press conference after the election, he said, "Politics will have no place in the Olympic games."
Moscow received the vote of a majority of the IOC members, who saw it as the personification of reliability. Moscow is not some Denver somewhere in the out-of-the-way state of Colorado; Denver suddenly backed out of holding the Winter games in 1976—they said there wasn't enough money. And Moscow isn't some Montreal, where construction workers on the Olympic complex went on strike almost every day. The fathers of modern Olympism knew that in Moscow, the finances would be completely in order and strikes would not be expected. Premier Kosygin assured Lord Killanin, president of the IOC: "Give Moscow the Olympics, and you can sleep easy!" The IOC members, who weren't born yesterday, knew that the powerful Soviet State would not cast Moscow to the whims of fate. True, it is written in the Olympic Charter that "the honor of organizing the games is granted to the city, not to the country." But who in our enlightened age would think of such trifling details?
Moreover, there was a precedent, when not a city but a State had hosted the games. As Alexander Weyland, a historian of the Olympic movement, wrote in The Olympic Pageant: "With the solid support of the government nothing was left undone; attention was paid even to the most minute details." But surely the IOC would recoil at such an analogy! I would hope, that if there was ever something the IOC truly did not want, it was a replay of Berlin. And yet "the solid support of the government" and a "yes" vote for Moscow took the load off their minds.
You could not say that the IOC did not realize what it had done. Right after the Worldwide Universiad in Moscow in August 1973, when more than a year remained before the election in Vienna, protests were raised against granting Moscow the right to host the Olympic games. The Universiad, which had turned into an anti-Semitic free-for-all, forced one to doubt the good intentions of Moscow.
"In retrospect, that the Olympics were held in Nazi Germany in 1936 was regrettable. Let's not make another mistake," said US congressman Edward Koch (now mayor of New York City) on September 11, 1973. "Totalitarian Moscow is not a fit place for the youth of the world," said George Meany on September 13, 1973.
Neither Edward Koch nor George Meany were at the Universiad but judged it by newspaper reports. Perhaps they were mistaken? "It would be a terrible, tragic mistake to hold the 1980 Olympic games in Moscow.…I just hope it never comes to that," said Norm Sloan, head coach of the US college basketball squad. If anyone, he would long remember the Moscow tournament.
Four minutes remained in the basketball game between the United States and Cuba. The scoreboard flashed 98-74 in favor of the Americans. There was one more play by Norm Sloan's team, and the scoreboard lit up 100. The team was wrapping up an offensive play when an American player was knocked down, like a boxer, then kicked in the face. This kick signaled the start of a brawl. Substitute players from the Cuban team ran out onto the court. A few seconds later, "envoys from the heroic island of Freedom" who were sitting in the stands poured out onto the basketball court. They beat the Americans with their fists, their feet, and chairs they had grabbed. The "keepers of the peace" did not interfere. The next day I interviewed one of the officials in the International Basketball Federation, who had seen all the major tournaments in the last 30 years. "All kinds of things have happened," he said. "But never anything like this. The strangest thing was that the police didn't get involved." And there were KGB employees everywhere—at the press center, at the competition sites, at the "international club," and in the athletes' dormitories.
And then there was the shameful ceremony at the Universiad when fans at Luzhniki booed the team from Israel. (At the Berlin stadium, fans had booed US athletes who did not raise their hands in the traditional Fascist salute as they filed past the VIP stand where the Führer was seated.)
The IOC undoubtedly knew all these facts. But still, they chose Moscow.
HOW VICTORY IS FORGED
On January 9, 1977, the Washington Post carried a letter from Don Berliner, an aviation/science writer and amateur pilot:
Your Dec. 26 editorial, "Moscow and the Olympics," brought into focus some experiences I recently had as a member of the United States team which participated in the Eighth World Aerobatics Championship this past summer in Kiev, USSR.
The Aerobatic Club of America spent more than $50,000 of its own hard-earned money to send six pilots, six custom-built airplanes and nine support-crewmen to what it naively assumed would be an honest, open competition, as had been the previous biennial events. The Soviet contest organizers, however, saw it as an opportunity to demonstrate the superiority of socialism over capitalism.
While the sportsmanship of the participants from 15 countries was above reproach, the behavior of the Soviet contest officials was disgraceful. They twisted rules, maneuvered honest judges out of positions of authority, and encouraged their boundary judges to ignore their pilots' violations, while calling opposing pilots "out" when this was clearly unjustified. We discovered, too late, that all it took to get better treatment from the boundary judges was an occasional gift of chewing gum!
The Soviet Team swept all the major awards, to the obvious embarrassment of its own pilots, some of whom were very good, but not the world's best, in the view of the veteran observers from all parts of the world.
If this is not to prove the forerunner of far more serious anti-sportsmanship to come in 1980, it will be up to the US Olympic Committee to make realistic preparations.
The organizers of the Olympic games in Berlin dreamed of using the international competition for demonstrating the superiority of National Socialism. Their Soviet comrades intend to demonstrate in Moscow the superiority of socialism. To reach this goal they will stop at nothing.
At the Olympic games in Montreal in 1976 a scandal broke out when a Soviet pentathlete was caught cheating. He had beat his opponent on the fencing court with the help of a "technical device" in the hilt of his sword. Millions of Western TV viewers saw how Boris Onishchenko was caught literally red-handed at the scene of the crime. Of course, Soviet television viewers did not see this. Only in Soviet Sports could you read a few unintelligible lines: Onishchenko had allegedly committed an act that was unworthy of a Soviet sportsman and therefore had been taken off the Olympic team. Obviously, there was no mention of what the action was. He was just expelled, and that was that! Thus ended the athletic career of a world champion, an Olympic champion (1972), a many-time champion of the Soviet Union, an Honored Master of Sport, an officer in the Soviet militia, the party organizer (!) of the Soviet team in Montreal, whose chest was decorated with orders and medals presented to him for his prowess in sports. Let us leave aside, however, the ill-fated pentathlete and instead trace the path of hundreds of thousands like Onishchenko, as they advance from the juvenile section to the national team.
If an athlete is a gymnast, figure skater, diver, acrobat, or boxer, who plays a sport where the result is determined not by a precise instrument but by the eyes of a judge, then since childhood he had heard talk of "non-objective judging." He has really run into this type of judging and knows from experience that, in order to win, athletic prowess is not always enough.
If an athlete is a tennis player, wrestler, or fencer, then he learns that in sports one can always earn some extra money. Not all his opponents are as good as he is, and deals can be made: you give me money, and I'll let you win. In Leningrad, I knew a Master of Sport in table tennis who was always enthusiastically invited to various tournaments because he would sell "masters' points." And how many players deliberately let their opponents win, so they can earn some money! Their names are legion.
If an athlete is a skier, then he has to worry about how he will get a hold of (not buy, but get a hold of—they are not for sale) scarce imported skis. You can't race on Soviet-made "boards"! And he must worry about how he will outbid someone else for scarce ski waxes.
And as for the coach in a children's section! Oh, to be a juvenile coach is a rare art. A coach's job is to constantly chase after cups, medals, and honors, because prizes are the only way pedagogic talent is evaluated. In chasing after victories, coaches are not averse to anything.
The most widespread method of obtaining success is changing the date on the student's birth certificate. What is even better is to procure a new birth certificate for him. And if a "14-year-old" beats his "peers," the coach rubs his hands together in glee. Not a single All-Union Spartakiad for school children (in its own way an Olympics for children) has gone by without scandals connected with overgrown children winning.
Still another way of winning is to enter Ivanov under the name of Petrov. That way there is no reason to change a birth certificate and no reason to "correct" something on it.
This is the kind of athletic atmosphere in which people like Onishchenko grow up. By the time they wind up on teams, there's nothing sacred left for them. They have been absorbing this poison for years, and they judge others as they do themselves.
"Did you know that for the championship of Europe, you can only accept kids who were not born before 1953?" I asked a high-school basketball coach in 1972.
"Of course I do."
"But Viktor Viktorov was born in 1952, and you put him on the team."
"Everybody else does it," the coach replied confidently. A functionary in Soviet sports, he did not doubt for a minute that everybody cheats.
So that's how "victory is forged"!
I recall a story which a basketball referee in the international category told me. There was no condemnation in the referee's tone, but rather admiration, almost envy.
"You know, of course, that prizes are given out at world hockey championships for 'fair play,'" said the referee. "At one championship, both our team and the Swedes were after the prize. Before the last game, the Swedish hockey players had less penalty minutes than we did. Yury Karandin refereed the last game with the Swedes. The period started, the minutes went by, and the Swedes kept playing 'clean,' without anyone being thrown in the penalty box. After the first period, Tarasov went up to Karandin and said…" (Here the referee paused and glanced around at his listeners, making sure that they all knew who the head coach, Tarasov, was.) "Then Tarasov said: 'You call that refereeing?' Karandin was silent. 'You call that refereeing?' repeated Tarasov threateningly. During the next period, Yury Karandin slapped a Swede with a 15-minute penalty for nothing, and when the Swede threw up his hands in bewilderment, Karandin slapped him with a 10-minute penalty for arguing with the referee. Our team got the prize for fair play. Every hockey player was given a Rolex watch."
I was not a witness of the conversations Tarasov had with Karandin, and neither was the dashing basketball referee who told me the story. But knowing of the behind-the-scenes kitchen where Soviet coaches and referees cook up this sort of thing, I don't doubt the authenticity of his story. The end justifies the means, they figure, and their end is to prove the superiority of "our old, traditional system" by any means. So, in what sports clubs are athletes best prepared for winning? Even a passing acquaintance with the reference books will tell you: the lion's share of all the prizes is taken by the Army and Dynamo athletes (the KGB and the police, respectively).
What are the strongest hockey teams? The Central Red Army Team and Dynamo in Moscow. What's the best basketball team? The Red Army. Soccer teams? The Dynamos of Kiev, Tbilisi, and Moscow. Volleyball teams? The best women's team is Moscow's Dynamo, and the best men's is the Red Army. At the Olympic games, from 1952 to 1976, the Army and Dynamo teams have won more gold medals for the Soviet teams than athletes from any other club.
Talented athletes from other clubs are mobilized into the army, and so that they won't have to serve their term, they "forge victories" at the stadiums instead. In each military district, specialized sports divisions are created, where "amateur" athlete-soldiers train, train, and train some more.
This militarization, so incompatible with Olympic ideals, has penetrated all aspects of Soviet sports. Even Hitler's Germany did not know a similar phenomenon. I guess the Fascists just did not have enough time.
This is the atmosphere in which future athletes like Onishchenko grow up. In daily life, they repeat the Olympic motto, with or without occasion: "It's not whether you win, it's how you play the game." But they know what is important. They have thoroughly learned that you don't get an apartment, prizes, and cars ahead of the line for "how you play the game." They know that "how you play the game" does not guarantee you or your children material well-being. The good things in life are due to you only for winning.
THE WEST TO THE RESCUE
NBC paid Mexico City $4.5 million dollars for the broadcasting rights to the XIX Olympic Games. The XX Olympics cost the same company $13.5 million; and the XXI Olympics, $25 million. "More than three years before the opening ceremonies of the XXII Games, the Soviet Union and NBC have set the first record for the Moscow Olympics—$85 million dollars," commented the New York Times on the latest deal.
The Soviet Union is in need of money, of hard cash. But no less than money, it is in need of propaganda for the "bright and happy" life. And American television is going to do the Soviet Union a big favor. Remember Goebbels's words: "The future of the Reich will also depend on what feelings our visitors will leave with."
"Visitors to Olympics Carrying Away Highly Favorable Impression of Reich." This was the headline that ran across the whole page of the New York Times on August 16, 1936. It was the amazing cleanliness of the city, the extremely well-mannered guides, the uninterrupted service of all the Olympic facilities.
Was there anti-Semitism? What are you talking about?! Two Jewish newspapers came out peacefully. On the German team there were two Jewish athletes—Helen Maier, a hurdler, and Rudy Bell, a field-hockey player. Why only two? But teams are made up according to athletic principles, not national.…Oh, sure, there was that annoying incident—the Führer did not shake the hand of a winner in the high-jump competition, the American Negro Cornelius Johnson. The Führer left the field right before the prizes were awarded. But he was a government personage, he could have had very urgent matters to attend to, could he not?
And visitors carried away favorable impressions of Berlin and the Reich. It's too bad Goebbels did not have television back then! The whole world would have seen the smiles of the happy German citizens! And what thrilling interviews Helen Maier and Rudy Bell could have given; they could have made it clear to the whole world that only enemies of the Reich talk and write about anti-Semitism in Germany.
Technological progress has come a long way. In 1980—thanks to NBC—the world will be assured that there is no better city than Moscow on the earth and that socialism is the most fair system.
"There is nothing in our contract to indicate we won't have complete freedom in Moscow," said Chet Simmons, president of the NBC sports division. The rabbit had fallen into the snake's trap.
On March 15, 1963, NBC's Moscow bureau was closed and resident correspondent Frank Bourgholtzer was ordered to leave the hospitable Soviet country. The reason? Two movies that NBC had filmed, one on the death of Stalin and the other on Khrushchev's career. Only two years later was the Moscow bureau reopened. On July 2, 1974, Soviet television authorities interrupted the broadcasting of a report prepared by an NBC correspondent, which included an interview with Andrei D. Sakharov.
Both of these incidents, people will object, are from the prehistoric epochs of relations between the Soviet Union and NBC, before the $85-million dollar contract had been signed. Nothing remains except to cite a fresher example.
On August 28, 1979, NBC Moscow correspondent Gene Pell decided to get an interview with his fellow American Francis Crawford at the entrance to Lefortovo Prison. Crawford had been declared guilty of exchanging money on the black market. But Gene Pell's intentions were destined to be thwarted; plainclothesmen took his reporter's ID away from him and did not allow him to speak with Crawford.
No one is authorized to "tarnish" Soviet reality. And who dares to do so will be taken to court, as were New York Times correspondent Craig Whitney and Baltimore Sun correspondent Hal Piper. Only representatives of the all-conquering Marxist-Leninist philosophy know what is truth and what is a lie. It is not given unto others to know. And of course NBC correspondents belong to "the others." American TV personnel are not going to speak with critics of the Soviet regime in 1980, but with Masters of Sport. And will there be any critics left in Moscow by 1980?
Those whom the Soviet government does not want seen will find it very difficult to get into Moscow. It will be easy to bar their path—only Olympic ticket holders will be allowed in the capital. These will be only "frontrunners of socialist competitions" (contests between factories or departments designed to provide incentives to increase production), Communist Youth League (Komsomol) activists, and excellent students. It will be harder to figure out what to do with foreigners, with the bourgeoisie; but something will be done with them, too. Everyone who wanted to come to the previous Olympic games did so. There were no limitations for anyone. Even to Berlin? Yes, even to Berlin. When Moscow made its bid, it stated: The doors will be open to all. But then other winds began to blow.
In the beginning of 1977 Moscow announced, through the secretary general of the Olympic Organizing Committee, Alexander Gresko (Gresko was a KGB agent in Great Britain and was one of the 105 Soviet spies expelled from there in 1971): "We will hardly be able to satisfy the requests of all those hoping to come to Moscow at this time. And because of this, according to Olympic tradition, each country will be given a quota." These "traditions," however, have never limited the number of tourists; quotas were introduced only to distribute the tickets to stadiums and gymnasiums.
Later in 1977 Soviet Sports commented: "Previously, no limitation to the number of accredited journalists existed at the Olympic games.…And in Innsbruck and Montreal there turned out to be more of them than participants in the competitions. This is not bad in itself. However, there is a danger that the press service will become cumbersome and awkward, and expenses for it will be beyond us." So? The IOC confirmed the numerical composition of the press corps that Soviet comrades suggested.
The American communist newspaper Daily World brought the following notice to everyone's attention: "The Soviet Olympic Committee has requested that the IOC not permit any unfriendly correspondents in Moscow, since these correspondents will disrupt 'the spirit of peace and friendship among nations and will violate the principles of the Olympic movement.'" So, they have figured out what to do with both tourists and journalists. And now comes the athletes' turn.
At the beginning of 1978 the Sports Committee announced that a quota had been established for participation of foreign athletes during the pre-Olympic week, which is traditionally held a year before the Olympics. "We will invite 2,000 athletes," said a committee official. When questioned, he refused to say whether athletes from Israel and Taiwan would be invited, remarking that only "indisputable stars" would be able to come from abroad.
In the summer of 1978 the organizers of the Baltic sailing regatta did not allow athletes from Belgium, Israel, Ireland, and Chile into Tallin. The Tallin competition is regarded by yachtsmen as one of the steps of preparation for the Olympic games. It is here that the XXII Olympics sailing events will be held, and Tallin, as Moscow, has been named an Olympic city.
In Berlin and in the German city of Garmich Parten-Kirchen (the Winter Olympic games were held here in 1936,) there was free access for everyone. There were even Soviet reporters in Berlin, although at that time, Stalin and Hitler had not yet managed to sign their agreement on dividing up the world. Information broadcast from Berlin was not subjected to any censor, and on the pages of the Fascist press, the "idle conjectures" of correspondents from other countries were not refuted. Recalling the Moscow Universiad and how Soviet newspapers pounced on critical articles in the Western press, we can unmistakably predict what will happen in 1980. Without a doubt, not a single word that casts a shadow on the only just socialist system in the world will make it into Soviet newspapers.
Czechoslovakian newspapers censored and "corrected" Lord Killanin's speech at the IOC sessions in Prague in June 1977. He had the imprudence to say that "national Olympic committees and the individual athlete must be protected from becoming the instrument of government direction." "Government direction" was taken—and rightly so—as an allusion to the sports policies of socialist countries. So "government direction" disappeared from the text, and "commercial interests" appeared in its place. The president of the IOC received an apology (it was the fault of the "switchman"—in this case, the interpreter), but a correction did not appear in Czech newspapers. Lord Killanin and the IOC members swallowed this pill, and the session continued. The pre-Olympic warm-ups went successfully, and now the competitions would be next.
"I have a chilling sense that what happened in Berlin, in 1936, will happen again in Moscow in 1980.…Once again the West will be deluded," wrote Beverly Nichols in a letter to the London Times. Nichols had covered the Olympics in Berlin in 1936.
Alas, this will most likely happen.
PRECEDENT FOR PROTEST
In the 1940s and '50s, on all the posters announcing the soccer matches for the USSR championship, it was printed: "The game will take place in any weather." Whether there was pouring rain, hurricane-like wind, or snow—in any weather. In the 1960s this slogan disappeared. It was either because they started changing scheduled matches to other days, with and without explanation (one more example of socialist planning), or because they saw some sort of undesirable allusion in the words "in any weather."
Today, the phrase should be remembered and widely used. It should be used in advertisements for the XXII Olympics, on posters, on souvenir medals, coins, stamps, and (I will make this suggestion to the IOC) on the medals that prizewinners will receive at the next Olympics. "Brown" weather did not interfere with the holding of the XI Olympic games. And judging from everything else, "red" weather will not be a hindrance either.
But evil has not always triumphed. The sports world knows examples of a worthy retort to totalitarianism.
After the suppression of the Hungarian revolution by Soviet forces, the Olympic committees of the Netherlands and Switzerland did not send their teams to Melbourne for the XVI Olympic games.
Twenty years later, the International Handball Federation canceled its world championship for women's teams, which was supposed to take place in the Soviet Union, as a sign of protest against the occupation of Czechoslovakia by forces from the Warsaw Pact countries.
In the winter of 1969, Norway refused to hold the world field-hockey championship because a Soviet team was intending to take part in this tournament. That same winter, the world ice-hockey championship was removed from occupied Prague to Stockholm.
Since that time, the weather has not cleared up. This one-sided detente—and how could it be otherwise?—has not brought any thawing. Quite the opposite, the climate has become chillier. So will the games really take place "in any weather"?
More than four decades have passed since the XI Olympics in 1936. How many Berliners are left alive out of that million, which stood like a solid wall along the path of the Olympic torch runner? What happened to the boys from the "Hitler Jugend," who sang such rousing songs, provoking the admiration of the tourists who had come to Berlin? In what graves are the German athletes lying, those who had laid their laurels at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in 1936?
The 1940 Olympic games were canceled by war. What will happen with the Olympics of 1984, in Orwell's year?
Alexander Georgievich Orlov worked in the Soviet Union as a geologist and later a journalist, covering sports. He emigrated in 1976 does free-lance work for Radio Liberty, and is news editor and columnist for the New York-based Novy Americanets [New American]. This article first appeared in Russian in the émigré journal Kontinent.
From The Handbook for Party Activists (Moscow, 1979), in a chapter on the Moscow Olympics:
The decision to give the honored right to hold the Olympic Games in the capital of the world's first socialist state is convincing testimony to the general recognition of the importance and correctness of the foreign political course of our country.
From a poorly translated English edition of a Soviet history of the Olympic Games, From Athens to Moscow (Moscow, 1979), on the 1936 games:
Trying as much as they could, the German propaganda of the Doctor Goebbels department spread rumors about peace-loving Nazi state, and they schemed that the world sports festival would help them a lot in forcing that view on the public. Hitler thought to make use of the games as a beautiful curtain besides which he could safely prepare to realize his aggressive plans.…
The program of preparatory measures included a number of police actions, with a view of concealing from the foreign public the practice of routing the democratic demonstrations, repressions and elimination of democratic freedom. It became all the more apparent that the Nazi rulers would go all the way to use the Olympics for demonstration of fascist ideas. The Christian Century, a U.S. magazine, wrote to the effect: "Nazi utilize the fact of Olympiad for the propaganda purpose to convince the German people in the power of fascism, and the foreigners, in its goodwill."
…the world protested with revolt and indignation against the holding of Olympiad in the Nazi country.…many countries [concluded] that the holding of the games of the 11th Olympiad in a fascist country is incompatible with the Olympic principles and appealed to all peoples of goodwill and to all followers of Olympic ideals to boycott the Hitler Olympiad.…
By 1936 the whole world understood what fascism meant. The games should never be held in a fascist country. The five interwoven rings symbolizing the friendship between the peoples of the five continents are incompatible with the swastika, which had become in Germany the symbol of violence, robbery and murder—that was the decision of the progressive athletes [who boycotted the 1936 winter games at Garmisch].
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Olympics…in Any Weather?".