The Olympics thrill the world with spectacle and drama. They also carry a cultural and social significance that goes beyond the stadium, athletes, and fans. The Games are arenas in which individual and team athletic achievement intersect with the politics of national identity in a global context.
The Olympics at the Millennium offers groundbreaking essays that explore the cultural politics of the Games. The contributors investigate such topics as the emergence of women athletes as cultural commodities, the orchestrated spectacles of the opening and closing ceremonies, and the alternative sport culture offered via the Gay Games. Unforgettable events and decisions are discussed: Native American athlete Jim Thorpe winning—and losing—his two gold medals in 1912. Why America was one of the few countries to actually send Jewish athletes to the “Nazi Olympics.” The disqualification of champion Ewa Klobukowska from competing as a woman, due to chromosomal testing in 1967.
With the 2000 Sydney Games imminent, several essays address concerns with which every host country must contend, such as the threat of terrorism. Highlighting the difficult issues of racism and nationalism, another article explores the efforts of this country’s aboriginal people to define a role for themselves in the 2000 Games, as they struggle with ongoing discrimination. And with the world watching, Sydney faces profound pressure to implement a successful Olympics, as a matter of national pride.