Single Blog Post


African Countries boycott the 1976 Montreal Olympics

The date is July 17, 1976 all the countries are ready to take part in the Olympic Games in Montreal, Canada. And suddenly, a news runs all over the print media that 26 African nations have collectively withdrawn from the opening ceremony of the showcase event.
Apparently, the African countries were not happy with the International Olympic Committee’s refusal to ban New Zealand.
What could have been the reason behind this!
Well, during those days New Zealand’s rugby team was on a controversial tour to South Africa, the country that was banned from the Olympics since 1964 for its refusal to condemn apartheid.  

This boycott was criticized dearly by the New Zealand Olympic Committee whose spokesperson told the newspaper,
“The All Blacks tour of South Africa had been arranged by the New Zealand Rugby Union which was an autonomous body and had nothing to do with the Olympics.”
Furthermore, he added
“It is totally illogical that 26 other nations also played in South Africa in the same year but only New Zealand are criticized.”
As a result of all this drama, more than 300 competitors did not take part in the Games which meant that many events were cancelled and re-scheduled. The main absentees were Tanzania’s Filbert Bayi and John Akii-Bua of Uganda, who at that time held the world record in the 1500m race and 400m hurdles category respectively.
Kenya was the last country to announce its withdrawal from the opening ceremony. In a statement issued just hours before the opening ceremony, the country’s foreign minister James Osogo said:
“The government and the people of Kenya hold the view that principles are more precious than medals.”
The IOC had to decide the fate of the boycotting nations, who risked being expelled from the Olympic movement. Eventually the nations had to face a lengthy ban from taking part in the future Olympic events.
Approximately 20 out of 26 withdrawing countries had already travelled to Montreal but had to return home. The countries that took part in this mammoth boycott campaign were:
Libya, Iraq, Kenya, Zambia, Nigeria, Gambia, Sudan, Ghana, Tanzania, Uganda, Algeria, Ethiopia, Central African Republic, Gabon, Chad, Niger, Congo, Mauritius, Upper Volta, Madagascar and Malawi.
Egypt was among the nations that did not take part in the opening ceremony but had not yet formally announced its withdrawal.
Another country “Taiwan” also boycotted this event but on totally different basis. They withdrew on the grounds that the Canadian government refused to allow them to compete under the name of the Republic of China.
But, gratefully this massive boycott during the 1976 Montreal Olympics did not affect the Commonwealth games held in Edmonton, Canada in 1978 as most of the nations participated in that event.

Share it

Comments (0)

Leave A Comment

Sign In

to post comment


Back To All Blogs