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South Africa Banned From Olympic Games

Olympics On This Day

On this day, in 1964 South Africa was banned from the Olympic Games


  August 18, 1964

Sport: Olympics


The IOC revoked the South African Olympic and National Games Association invitation to the 1964 Olympics because it would not declare its opposition to the government's policy of apartheid. 

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced on Aug. 18, 1964, that it revoked the South African Olympic and National Games Association’s invitation to the Summer Olympics in Tokyo due the organization’s lack of opposition to its country’s apartheid policy. South Africa’s boycott from the Olympics extended through the 1988 Summer Games in Seoul, South Korea.

South African athletes were segregated into teams based on race under the laws of apartheid. Only white athletes and teams were recognized by the South African National Olympic Committee (NOC), excluding the majority of the country’s population simply as a result of skin color.

At the 1963 IOC Conference in Baden-Baden, Germany (relocated from Nairobi, Kenya, after the Kenyan government refused to issue visas to the South African delegation), IOC members voted to rescind the opportunity to compete in the games if the South African National Olympic Committee would not oppose the imposed athlete restrictions. The NOC did not relent and the boycott was implemented a year later.

South Africa was represented by mixed-race teams in the Paralympics until 1980, but by the mid-1980s, pressure to end segregation had grown and resulted in the Olympic boycott extending to all South African athletes.  

South Africa overhauled its NOC in 1990 and created the Interim National Olympic Committee of South Africa with anti-apartheid campaigner Sam Ramsamy as president in 1991. After South Africa repealed apartheid law in June of ’91, the country’s athletes were allowed to return to the games beginning with the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona. 


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