SA is banned from the Olympic Games

1964 Emblem

Tuesday, 18 August 1964

In October 1963, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided in Baden Baden, Germany, that South Africa would have to eliminate racial discrimination in sport before 31 December 1963, or the country would not be permitted to send a team to the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo. Though the deadline was later extended to allow SA more time, the government was not prepared to permit multiracial sport. As a result the IOC did not invite SA to the Olympic Games in Tokyo. This was a heavy blow for South African sporting circles and it's supporters.

Following Prime Minister J. B. Vorster's relaxed sports policy, a committee of the IOC visited SA in September, 1967 to examine the situation. The committee presented a favourable report and stated that SA had undertaken to send a multiracial team, selected on merit, to the next Olympic Games. On strength of this report, SA was invited to the 1968 games in Mexico, but this elicited such sharp protests from African countries, who threatened to withdraw if SA participated, that the IOC was obliged to withdraw its invitation in April, 1969.

The ban was only lifted prior to the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, when the international community became convinced that SA was irrevocably on the road to political transformation and democracy.

  1. Liebenberg, B.J. & Spies, S.B. (eds)(1993). South Africa in the 20th Century, Pretoria: Van Schaik Academic, pp. 431 & 432.
  2. Muller, C.F.J. (ed)(1981). Five Hundred years: a history of South Africa; 3rd rev. ed., Pretoria: Academica, pp. 526 & 527.
  3. Wallis, F. (2000). Nuusdagboek: feite en fratse oor 1000 jaar, Kaapstad: Human & Rousseau.
    • BBC News, 1964:' South African banned from Olympics', [online], Available at [Accessed: 26 August 2013]
    • Political,social and economic aspects of the olympic games,[online], Available at [Accessed: 26 August 2013]

Last updated : 18-Aug-2017

This article was produced by South African History Online on 16-Mar-2011

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