Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Mexico Olympics 1968

Before the olympics there were rumors that Black Americans would organise a boycott of the games. Professor Harry Edwards of UCLA was the one organising the boycott. I received a letter from a Black South African, who was at UCLA, questioning San-Roc's campaign for the inclusion of Black South Africans in the South African team, whilst Black Americans were calling for a boycott!

One Saturday afternoon I sat at my typewriter and wrote a letter to the South African to pass on to Professor Edwards. I argued that the South African government and Olympic committee would never satisfy our demand that all segregation in sport had to be abolished. Therefore our next step would be to call for the exclusion of South Africa and if Black Americans stated that they would join with Africa and boycott the Games if South Africa was invited they would score a victory when South Africa was excluded.

I argued further that the Black American proposed boycott was aimed at the elimination of Black ghettos , following the riots in Black ghettos of Los Angeles and Black ghettos throughout the U.S. But a boycott of the Games would not eliminate the ghettos and eliminate discrimination and inprove Civil Rights. The boycott would punish Black athletes and they would have to crawl back for reinsertion in US teams. I suggested that Black athletes could demonstrate their anger by wearing black armbands etc.

The Black Glove demo of Smith and Carlos at Mexico Olympics was a great gesture of defiance to Racial Discrimination in the US and to the adminitration.

San-Roc in Mexico

San-Roc was represented by Dennis Brutus and Chris de Broglio at the Mexico Olympics. When we were in New York on the way to Mexico we visited the American Committe on Africa and were introduced to Jim Bouton of the Yankee Baseball Team, and he offered to join us in Mexico, which we accepted with great pleasure. He made our visit very pleasant as he hired a car for us to get around aand go to the Olympic village.

We spent most of our time at the Camino Real and one day the US Olympic member Mr Roby recognised Jim and asked him for a drink in his room. He asked Jim what he was doing in Mexico and Jim told him he was with representatives of San-Roc, a group of South Africans opposed to Apartheid in South Africa. Roby reacted by asking Jim if he was a "communist" or something and cut short the drink !!

Abraham Ordia and Jean-Claude Ganga called a meeting of the Supreme Council for Sport in Africa, to which some Black American athletes and coaches were invited . One coach was very moved by the occasion and told about the plans of the athletes to demonstrate. When we drove him back to the village he asked us to tell the journalists present and the Africans present not to divulge what he had said, he was very nervous of having "let the cat out of the bag". We assured him that only African journalists had been present and they would not divulge his speech. We then talked to Ganga who assured us that no word would come out. In fact it remained a secret until Smith and Carlos extended their gloved fists.

Our work in Mexico was mostly with the different Sports Federations.


Went to the congress of the Boxing Federation and before the session me met with the Tunisian delegate who was a memeber of the executive. We explained that the South African federation was purely white and did not admit Black boxers. He told us that he would raise the issue and have Souht Africa expelled.

When we met with him in the evening he told us that South Africa had been duly expelled. That was the easiest expulsion we ever had. Most other federations had English presidents who were friends of Apartheid South Africa or the constitution had special provisions such as Tennis which had 4 members with 12 votes( England, USA, Australia and France), 8 members with 8 votes etc and African countries had no votes.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Avery Brundage - IOC President

Avery Brundage - IOC President

After South Africa was invited to the Mexico Olympics through an illegal vote of the IOC members, we were in Grenoble and Lord Killanin, a member of the IOC Commission which had been to South Africa, asked me if I thought there would be an African boycott. I told him that all Africa would boycott. He then informed me that Reg Alexander, the Kenya IOC member, had assured him that there would be no boycott.

When the IOC decision was made public, there was a vigorous reaction from Africa. The first country to withdraw was Tanzania, followed by Nigeria, Kenya, Ethiopia and all the others. Lord Exeter, a strong supporter of Apartheid South Africa went on TV and declared that in 1948 there were NO African countries and the Games were very successful. Mexico let it be known that the Games could not be held without Africa. Brundage became aware of the world reaction to Apartheid South Africa and decided to go to South Africa to Visit the Kruger Park and have a fireside chat with the South African Olympic Committee and the SA Government. He actually asked them to help the IOC and withdraw unilaterally. The South Africans refused on the grounds that only an IOC Session could withdraw the invitation..

Brundage was forced to call a meeting of the IOC Executive in Lausanne. This meeting was very tense. The member for Pakistan told the meeting that he would be lynched when he got home if the invitation to South Africa was maintained. There was a tea break, when Dennis Brutus talked to Ramirez Vasquez, the Mexican executive member, and told him that he had information that Mexico would not be able to guarantee the safety of the South African delegation. Vasquez thanked Mr Brutus and went back into the Meeting and repeated what Brutus had told him. The meeting grabbed at this bait and Brundage came out to announce the withdrawal of the invitation of Apartheid South Africa. Sanroc had scored a sensational victory only 2 years after the Rome IOC Session. It was a major defeat for Brundage!

In 1970 I was in Cairo at the Congress of the Supreme Council for Sport in Africa, when I was party to drafting the resolution for expelling South Africa from the Olympic Movement. This resolution was sent to the IOC for debate at its Session in Amsterdam in May. San-Roc sent six members to canvas support for the resolution. Jean-Claude Ganga and Abraham Ordia were to lead the African Case. The South African delegation gave out a document in their defence.

In this document the South Africans stated that Brundage had consulted his lawyer in Chicago who had advised that to withdraw the invitation would be illegal. Brundage was furious. He told them that his lawyers opinion was his private property. When the vote was taken South Africa was expelled from the IOC.

After the Mexico Olympics South Africa decided to organise a Mini Olympic Games in South Africa. San-Roc pressured most countries to withdraw and we saw an advert in The SA Sunday Times that The organisers were using the Olympic Rings. I called Lausanne and found that Brundage was there, I called Dennis Brutus and told him to go to the airport and fly to Lausanne to show the picture of the Olympic Rings to Brundage. I called the IOC in Lausanne and said Mr Brutus would be coming for an urgent meeting with Brundage. He was received by Brundage who was furious and faxed the South Africans to tell them they had no right to use the Olympic Rings. The so-called Mini Olympics were a major failure. Brundage,who had refused to talk to San-Roc in Rome, faxed us all his correspondance to South Africa..


When I attended the IOC meeting In Rome in April 1966 I met Jean-Claude Ganga who introduced me to other African members and I saw Avery Brundage the President of the IOC in the lobby of the Excelsior Hotel, I approached him and introduced myself as representing San-Roc. He brushed me off and said " I have no intention of talking to you". I thanked him and went on my way. I decided then that I would not ever talk to him.I was delighted when 2 years later he had to announce the exclusion of South Africa from the Mexico Olympics. He was green! More of this later..

Opposite the Excelsior there was a little bar, where I went for a beer and I heard some people talking Afrikaans and one of them was Fred Labuscagne of the Sunday Times in SA. I don't remember how we engaged in conversation and he asked me what I was doing in Rome. I answered that I was visiting Rome as a tourist. He was accompanied by the SA Ambassador in Italy. The next day he saw me at the Excelsior Hotel and realised I was representing San-Roc. This made headline news in SA and Dennis Brutus who had just been released from Robben Island was cheered by the Blacks as he walked in Port Elizabeth. I had been in touch with him before going to Rome as San-Roc representative.

Friday, February 18, 2005

The role of Chris de Broglio in the Anti-Apartheid Struggle

The role of Chris de Broglio in the struggle for Non-Racial Sport in South Africa

Chris de Broglio was one of the founder members of the South African Non-Racial Olympic Committee, SAN-ROC, in 1962.
Dennis Brutus, who had been the prime mover in the formation of SAN-ROC, was elected President at the inaugural meeting in Johannesburg.
Chris de Broglio did not hold an official position in order to avoid the attention of the Security Police. Dennis Brutus attempted to leave South Africa by crossing the border into Moçambique, in order to attend the meeting of the IOC in Baden-Baden. He was arrested by the Portuguese Security police and handed over to the South African Security Police. When attempting to escape in Johannesburg he was shot twice in the stomach at point blank range and was sentenced to two years in prison for leaving the country illegally, although he was in possession of a British Rhodesian passport at the time of his arrest!
Chris de Broglio, who worked for an international airline, was able to arrange for the Chairman, John Harris, to leave the country without the knowledge of the Security Police to attend the meeting of the IOC. His mission was successful as South Africa was excluded from the Tokyo Olympics., which was the first real blow to the Apartheid State.
Chris de Broglio was born in Mauritius and migrated to South Africa in 1948 to study Accountancy in Durban. He worked as an Auditor until 1958 when he joined UTA French Airlines as Administrative Manager for Southern Africa.
Right from the start he came into conflict with the Apartheid system, which ruled every facet of life in SA. From 1950 to 1962 he was South African Weightlifting Champion and competed in the World Championships in Sweden in 1958 and Vienna in 1961. At the same time he was involved in sports administration as Secretary and then Chairman of the Natal and Transvaal Weightlifting Associations. Although being classified as white in South Africa he was involved in the Non-Racial weightlifting organisations and organised a Non-Racial Championship in Durban in 1954, in which four white South African champions took part. The reaction of the S.A. Weightlifting Federation was to threaten him with expulsion. Nevertheless he continued his collaboration with the Non-Racial sports bodies and when he attended the World Championships in Stockholm and Vienna , he was asked by Dennis Brutus, to make preliminary contacts with officials to explain the South African racist situation.
When SAN-ROC started scoring victories against Apartheid South Africa in 1963, with their suspension from World football and the Olympics, the Security Police started a campaign of harassment against all those involved with SAN-ROC. The Secretary, Reg Hlongwane , who worked at UTA with Chris, was officially warned by a Magistrate under the Suppression of Communism Act. Whilst collaborating with SAN-ROC, Chris de Broglio was also involved with the ANC underground movement. When the Leaders of the ANC were arrested at Rivonia in 1963, the Security Police kept a close watch on Chris de Broglio, having him followed permanently, putting pressure on his employers, tapping his phone and finally forcing UTA to transfer him out of SA.
When Dennis Brutus was released from Robben Island in 1966, Chris managed to get his agreement for the creation of a SAN-ROC committee in exile, based in London.

It had been reported in the press that South Africa was likely to be invited to the 1968 Mexico Olympics and the matter was to be discussed at the IOC Meeting in Rome in April 1966. Chris contacted Cannon Collins, President of Defence & Aid Fund, who agreed to pay for a ticket and the hotel for him to travel to Rome. Chris didn’t know any of the IOC members and had to start from scratch. At the Excelsior Hotel, where the IOC members stayed, Chris was recognised by Fred Labuscagne, a reporter for the SA Sunday Times, who sent a Headline story to his newspaper that SAN-ROC was back in action and would be a real problem for South Africa’s bid to rejoin the Olympic Games. When the news reached the township where Dennis Brutus lived, there was great excitement and Dennis was greeted with the victory salute in the street. At that meeting the foundation was laid for future SAN-ROC activities. Chris met Jean-Claude Ganga, Secretary of the African Games, who introduced him to all other African IOC members and other members from Asia and Latin America who would support our fight against Apartheid.
Chris tried to have a discussion with Avery Brundage, President of the IOC, but when SAN-ROC was mentioned he brushed Chris aside and said he had no time for that organisation. A statement he was to regret when he was forced to announce the withdrawal of South Africa from the 1968 Olympics, in which SAN-ROC was directly involved.
In August 1966 Dennis Brutus was allowed to leave South Africa on an Exit Permit and joined Chris de Broglio in London. Together with Reg Hlongwane, their three men team intensified their action. SAN-ROC met with FIFA delegates in London, travelled to the Commonwealth Games in Jamaica, attended the IAAF congress in Budapest, the Weightlifting Congress in Berlin, Inaugural meeting of the Supreme Council for Sport in Africa (SCSA) at Bamako, the IOC meeting in Teheran in 1967. At that meeting it was decided to send a three-man delegation to South Africa. This Commission composed of Lord Killanin, Judge Ademola of Nigeria and Reg Alexander of Kenya. Their report which was presented to the 1968 IOC meeting in Grenoble was very confusing. It neither condemned Apartheid nor cleared SA of racism in sport. On the basis of that report and organising a postal vote from absent members (which was unconstitutional) SA was invited to the 1968 Mexico Olympics.
When the decision was announced SAN-ROC, in close cooperation with the Supreme Council for Sport in Africa, organised a massive boycott of the Games if SA was allowed to participate. Most African and Asian countries joined the boycott which forced the IOC to withdraw the invitation. That was the most important victory of SAN-ROC which led to the final expulsion of Apartheid SA from the Olympic Movement at Amsterdam in 1970.
This decision was a great blow to the friends of Apartheid South Africa at the IOC and International Federations. After massive demonstrations organised by SAN-ROC (with Peter Hain as Chairman of Stop the Seventy Tour) in opposition to the 1969-70 Rugby tour of Britain, Rugby tours to and from SA were cancelled. The cancellation of the 1970 Cricket tour of England followed. SAN-ROC amplified its activities in close collaboration with the Supreme Council for Sport in Africa, the Anti-Apartheid movements in Australia, New-Zealand, France, Holland, the US etc. which led to the expulsion of South Africa from most international sport.
In 1974 Sam Ramsamy joined the SAN-ROC Committee and was later to be made Chairman, with Chris as Secretary General and the following Committee members; Isaiah Stein, Omar Cassem, Jasmat Dhiraj, . Dennis Brutus who had been the great motivator of SAN-ROC since 1962 had moved to the US as Professor at NorthWestern Uiversity. Chris formed a new team with Sam Ramsamy to increase SAN-ROC’s international contacts, especially with the UN’s Special Committee Against Apartheid and the Supreme Council for Sport in Africa and International Sports Federations. SAN-ROC, represented by Chris de Broglio and Isaiah Stein, was recognised as a full member of the SCSA at its Rabat Congress, at which SAN-ROC called for two-minute silence for Nelson Mandela, who had been at Robben Island since 1965.
With SAN-ROC as a member of the Supreme Council, the fate of Apartheid sport was sealed. South Africa’s participation in International Sport was subject to the approval of the SCSA and SAN-ROC.
In 1987 Chris de Broglio was involved with IDASA in the organisation of the historic meeting between ANC Officials and 60 leading Afrikaners which was held at Dakar under the Auspices of President Abou Diouf and Madame Daniele Mitterand. That Meeting contributed greatly to the dramatic changes which followed leading to the final defeat of Apartheid and the creation of the New South Africa.
Chris de Broglio was awarded the Olympic Order in 1997 in recognition of his action against Racism in Sport and in defence of the Olympic Charter