If you think the Covid-19 pandemic was the worst that could happen in the world and Olympic history, you are wrong.
Ever since the Olympic Games opened in 1896, it witnessed some of the darkest moments in world history. Some of the events caused the cancellation of the games, but there were also times when the Olympics persevered.
For instance, the 1916 Olympics. The Germans should have hosted the games, even building a 30,000-seater stadium.
But in 1914, war broke out. Dubbed the ‘Great War,’ it put the whole world at a standstill—including the Olympics.
Germany, Belgium were Booted Off the Olympics
After the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, all hell broke loose. World War I lasted for four years, and after peace reigned once again, Germany was not included in the participating nations for the 1920 Olympics.
Reason the Germans were excluded is that they were the ones that started World War I. Belgium was also not included in the Olympics.
Germany was also not part of the countries that participated in the 1924 Olympics after the French Olympic officials banned their athletes from playing the games.
Americans Petitioned to Cancel the 1936 Olympic Games
Germany hosting the 1936 Olympic Games received criticism since the country was under the Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler.
A powerful leader, Hitler orchestrated the massacre of millions of European Jews, Romani, the intellectually impaired, political dissidents, and homosexuals.
Because of his multitude human rights violations, Americans opposed the Olympics being held in Germany. Groups of Jews and Catholics tried to plead that America boycotts the venue. However, then-U.S. Olympic Committee president Avery Brundage ignored the cry of the coalition and proceeded with the games.
Hitler intended to highlight the “strength” of his nation in the Olympics. However, African-American track and field athlete Jesse Owens proved that the superior race is the Americans as he took home four gold medals.
India’s field hockey also surprised everyone by crushing Germany 8-1 in the men’s final.
Two Olympic Games Cancelled Due to World War II
21 years after the first cancellation of the Olympic Games, World War II happened. Hence, a series of games experienced setbacks.
From 1939 until 1945, the world was in conflict. Led by Germany’s invasion of Poland, the 1940 Olympic games were halted.
The 1944 summer Olympics and the winter games were also canceled because of the ongoing world war.
The Olympics finally pushed through in 1948, but prohibited German and Japanese athletes from participating.
The International Olympics Committee (IOC) was established in 1894 and claimed to be an “apolitical” and “neutral” organization. However, claims from critics like History professor David Goldblatt stained the integrity of the organizational body.
Apparently, according to Goldblatt, the IOC had cases of continuing games despite outright human rights violations, just like the following:
Massacre in Mexico
Before the 1968 summer games in Mexico City started, its government staged a massacre.
State forces shot a mob of unarmed students and professors while protesting against police brutality and abuse of power. The Mexican government caused deaths of between 200 and 300 in the incident known as “Tlatelolco Massacre.”
Ironically, despite the games having a theme of “peace with icons of the dove of peace all over the city,” the opposite happened. IOC continued the Olympics shortly after hundreds died.
Even if there is chaos, as long as it is not at World War level, the games will ensue, just like this:
Acts of Terrorism Did Not Faze the IOC
Amid the death of 11 Israeli athletes in 1972 because of a Palestinian terrorist attack, the Munich Games, which was supposed to be participated by the departed participants, ensued after a two-day pause.
Another instance happened during the 1996 summer games in Atlanta, Georgia. An improvised explosive device (IED) was set off during a free concert in Centennial Olympic Park. Over a hundred were injured, and two perished.
The Olympic committee in Atlanta was quick to move on, as the president said, “The spirit of the Olympic movement mandates that we continue.”
Despite some of the darkest moments in world history, the Olympic Games have persevered. As the world faces the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to remember that even during times of chaos and adversity, the Olympic spirit endures.
The games have always been a symbol of unity and hope, bringing people from different nations and backgrounds together to celebrate the best of human achievement.