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..


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