In many posts, I talk about the difference that one person had on the apartheid movement and what they did to make such an impact on the people around the world. Part four of Have You Heard from Johannesburg? focuses on the thousands of people that rallied together to put down the apartheid regime in South Africa and show that the world does not support the segregation of athletics.
The Olympics have always been meant to bring all of each nation’s best athletes and show off what their country is capable of. These athletes represent more than just great athleticism, but also they bring the people of their country together to show all of the pride that one has for their nation. It is very rare to see people truly stop and think about what a team or athlete does for a specific fan base, but they are the hope that these people have.
An example of this pride on a smaller basis could be the Men’s Ice Hockey Team from Quinnipiac University. They are number one in the nation at this point in time and when I went to the Yale game, the school spirit was insane. In the student section, every single seat was filled and people were standing behind because they were not able to find seats. The school spirit and pride that we showed that game should be brought forth more often here because that energy is what brings that athletes up. The same thing happens for the Olympics.
When the Olympics committee reinstated South Africa for the 1976 Olympics, it tore down the pride that some of these countries felt because they knew of the awful things that were happening in South Africa. They knew apartheid was injuring South Africa as a country and the morale was greatly diminished. When other countries began boycotting these Olympics, the committee knew that if they did not ban South Africa, then they would be putting the Olympics in jeopardy. It would not be a spot for all the countries to come together, but for those countries that wanted to show that they were not affected by apartheid to continue the games.
To withdraw from an event that you had been training for your entire life, takes a lot of courage and faith that what you are doing is the right thing for you and for the betterment of your countries and others. In my opinion, all of these athletes that gave up their dreams are heroes that deserve great recognition for what they did for the apartheid movement.