Olympics 2021 – The times when Africa shunned the Olympic Games

The opening ceremony of the Montreal 1976 Olympics. No less than 22 African countries had shunned the Canadian meeting.

While Canada hosts the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal without South Africa, excluded by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), several African countries are organizing to boycott the event. This strong act does not target Canada or the absence of South Africa, but rather New Zealand.

Indeed, the oceanic country, which maintained relations with the apartheid regime, had sent its rugby team on tour to South Africa. No less than 22 countries of the continent then decided to boycott Montreal 1976 because of the participation of New Zealand.

If the decision not to go to the 21st Olympiad does not visit the host country, it will not be so for the next, four years later. The Moscow Games will be boycotted by a dozen African countries, particularly predominantly Muslim countries.

In the heart of the cold war

The reason: in 1979, in the midst of the Cold War, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. The main rival country, the United States, logically avoids participating and calls on its allies to do the same. Meanwhile, Muslim countries remain invading Kabul as an attack on Islam. In total, about fifty countries – including twelve Africans – will be in Moscow in the summer of 1980.

In 1984, it was the turn of the rival USSR country to organize the competition in Los Angeles. Although several African countries are socialist, six of them will participate in the Olympics. These are Benin, Seychelles, Mozambique, Madagascar, Somalia (which had severed its relations with the Soviet Union) and Libya (for other reasons).

The 1988 edition in Seoul was the one that gathered the most participating countries since the first, in 1896 in Athens. But three African nations will voluntarily decide to miss the call. Madagascar and the Seychelles continue their boycott while Ethiopia is in solidarity with North Korea, enemy of the host country.

Marietou SOUMARE

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