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1964: South Africa banned from Olympics

South Africa has been barred from taking part in the 18th Olympic Games in Tokyo over its refusal to condemn apartheid.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced the decision in Lausanne, Switzerland, after South Africa failed to meet an ultimatum to comply with its demands by 16 August.

The IOC originally withdrew South Africa's invitation to Japan during the winter games in Innsbruck, Austria.

It said the decision could be overturned only if South Africa renounced racial discrimination in sport and opposed the ban in its own country on competition between white and black athletes.

Face the ban

Although the South Africans announced in June they would be including seven non-whites in their team of 62 Olympic hopefuls - the move did not go far enough for the IOC.

On 26 June, the committee gave South Africa one last chance to make the declaration within 50 days or face the ban.

The IOC said nothing short of a public announcement made in the newspapers and on the radio renouncing all racial discrimination in sport would be acceptable.

Committee secretary Otto Meyer said at the time he did not believe the South Africans would have a change of heart.

In fact the South African Amateur Athletic Union subsequently pulled out of a British athletics meeting in June in protest at the IOC's ultimatum.

The union, which was to have sent a team of nine white and two black South Africans, accused the IOC of introducing politics into sport.

The South African refusal to condemn apartheid drew further condemnation before the games.

At the Wimbledon tennis championships in London at the end of June, there were protests against South African policy. Several players scheduled to meet South Africans pulled out of the competition.

In Context
South Africa was barred from the Olympics until Barcelona in 1992 - following the repeal of all apartheid laws the previous year.

In October 1964, it was also suspended indefinitely by FIFA, football's international governing body.

South Africa's apartheid policy also led to trade sanctions and a ban on cricket and rugby tours during the 1970s and 1980s.

In 1990 a team of rebel cricketers flew to South Africa. The tourists, who included former England captain Mike Gatting, were greeted with protests and the trip was curtailed. Gatting faced a five year ban from test cricket for taking part.

The Tokyo games were memorable for the British team which achieved its best haul of medals since the 1908 games. Mary Rand picked up Britain's first gold for women's athletics with a world record in the long jump.

Ethiopia's surprise victor in the Rome marathon, Abebe Bikila retained his title - just six weeks after having his appendix removed.


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