To continue our crisis series, here are a few more highlights as we celebrate the Opening Ceremonies today from Sochi:
The 1976 Olympic Games saw the first organized widespread boycott in Olympic history. Twenty eight African countries (Algeria, Cameroon, The Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guyana, Iraq, Kenya, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Upper Volta and Zambia) refused to participate. The aim of their boycott was ultimately due to the apartheid-era (Apartheid was a organization of racial segregation enforced through legislation by the National Party governments, who were the reigning party from 1948 to 1994, in South Africa, under which the rights of the majority of black citizens of South Africa were curtailed), but in this occasion New Zealand was the alternative. The All Blacks were continuing to tour South Africa to play rugby in disobedience of an overall ban on sporting contact, which involved South Africa’s exclusion from the Olympic movement. The African nations leading the boycott wanted New Zealand disqualified. The International Olympic Committee’s argument was that the actions of New Zealand’s rugby commissioners were past their control, that other countries had also come to South Africa to uphold sporting links, and that in banning both South African and Southern Rhodesia they had done all they could to cut sporting ties.
On January 6, 1994 Tonya Harding arranged an attack on her teammate Nancy Kerrigan at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Detroit, Michigan. Because of her injuries, Kerrigan was forced out of the competition and Harding went on to win the event, only to be stripped of her win two days later after officers learned of her participation in the attack. Harding had allegedly collaborated with her ex-husband Jeff Gillooly and her bodyguard Shawn Eckhardt, hiring a man named Shane Stant to break Kerrigan’s leg and stop her from competing. The attack was initially supposed to take place at her training rink in Massachusetts, but Kerrigan never showed the day Stant went to the facility. Because of this, he traveled to Detroit’s Cobo Hall, where he waited until Kerrigan had finished a practice session before striking her with a collapsible metal baton on her right knee and escaping the scene in a vehicle driven by his uncle Derek Smith. A few weeks later, Harding acknowledged that the men were involved in the arrangement of the attack and that she had helped them hide what they did. Harding and Kerrigan were named to the U.S. Olympic team for the 1994 Winter Games in Lillehammer, Norway. The U.S. Olympic Committee had seemingly considered excluding Harding from the team once the details of her participation began to evolve, but after she filed a $20 million lawsuit against them they allowed her to go on. Fortunately, Harding only finished in 8th place while Kerrigan got revenge by finishing second and taking home the silver medal. Nancy also got a different type of revenge as the attack was covered all around the world through all different types of media as a “good vs evil” kind of story in which Nancy Kerrigan became the media’s sweetheart. You may have seen this story resurfacing lately, as this year also marks its 20 year anniversary.
More case studies to come. Stay tuned…