Boycott readings

Listed below are a few articles related to aquatic sports history - both from South African and elsewhere, to provide a perspective, and also so articles related to the sports boycott.

Boycott readings

Hitting Apartheid for Six? The Politics of the South African Sports Boycott - Douglas Booth

Apartheid on the run

SACOS - The role in South African sport - MA Thesis by Noel Goodall 2004

The ties that bind - South African sports diplomacy 1958 - 1963

Sports and the liberation struggle : a tribute to Sam Ramsamy and others who fought apartheid sport

Sports boycott as a political tool - Marlene Goldsmith

Sports Diplomacy and Apartheid South Africa by Alex Laverty

Creepy crawlies, portapools and the dam(n)s of swimming transformation by Ashwin Desai and Ahmed Veriava

Swirling Shades Of Gray - Sports Illustrated article - May 16, 1983

The Effect of Sport Boycott and Social Change in South Africa: A Historical Perspective, 1955-2005 by P. Nongogo

The Guardian - Wednesday 2 July 2008

Are sports sanctions and boycotts a pointless exercise?

John Traicos and Goolam Rajah



John Traicos
Former South Africa and Zimbabwe Test cricketer

Suspending Zimbabwe from inter-national cricket will have little or no
political impact because there are greater issues at stake - Robert Mugabe may like cricket but power and position probably matter most. It is unrealistic to expect sanctions to effect political change by putting pressure on those in power if a sporting body is controlled by politicians and has to adhere to the laws of the country, regardless of whether or not it agrees with them. In any case, anyone upset by a sporting boycott can do nothing about it since the right to vote currently has no relevance in Zimbabwe.

In fact, most sports reflect high standards of sportsmanship resulting in good lines of communication that can often be beneficial in overcoming political and religious barriers. In that respect it is very unfair to punish individual Zimbabwe cricketers or Zimbabwe Cricket for government policies especially when you cannot confirm that they voted for the political party you are trying to punish. Sport should be kept separate from politics as far as possible. While sport has a strong national and representative element - it is usually every top sportsman's ambition to represent his country - it is also individual and personal.

It would be very difficult to achieve an effective ban across all sports but it would be wrong to suspend Zimbabwe Cricket when, for example, the country's athletes can compete at the Olympics this summer. History also tells us that boycotts at the Olympics have had minimal impact. It is the innocent, hard-working sportsmen who suffer instead of the politicians.

People highlight the example of South Africa and how apartheid ended due to sanctions. Having experienced the reality when I couldn't play for South Africa in the 1970s I believe that while sporting sanctions were not liked by South Africans in the 70s and 80s (in fact sport survived through rebel tours), there were greater influences in effecting change. These were economic and cultural isolation, the growing power of revolutionary elements in the 80s and the increasing violence in the country. There was also a realisation by leading whites by 1990 that South Africa (like Rhodesia in the 70s) was fighting a war it could not win.

So, how do you solve the problem? The political situation can be changed peacefully through the holding of free and fair elections or aggressively through external economic and military pressure. Neither of these options seems likely in the short term. Instead a negotiated settlement may be possible if the arrangement gives Mugabe, his military leaders and the MDC a role in a peaceful structure that can in due course provide a transition to normality.



Goolam Rajah
General manager of the South Africa cricket team

Frankly, I think it is crazy for anyone to say there is no place for sporting
boycotts, or that they are ineffectual. South Africa is living, breathing proof that they can have a profound and dramatic effect for the better.

Sportsmen who claim their "innocence" from the real world are deluding themselves. When cricketers came to South Africa on the Mike Gatting-led rebel tour in 1990, they claimed they were just here to play cricket and knew nothing of politics. Sorry - their mere presence meant they were endorsing the apartheid regime and that was the view of 90% of the population.

One has to be able to look at the big picture and there is always a price to pay for attaining what is "right". The vast majority of white cricketers who couldn't play against the best teams in the world during our 21-year period of isolation were innocent but that was a very small price to pay for the emancipation of 40 million people.

The point about sporting boycotts is that they draw the world's attention to what is happening within the borders of despot countries. Eddie Barlow started the sporting campaign against apartheid back in the early 1980s when he led his team off the field in the middle of a Currie Cup game at the Wanderers and told the press: "So much, but no more." The Gatting-led tour, I believe, inadvertently played a very significant role in ending apartheid because the government of the day hated the worldwide attention and embarrassment which it created.

Admittedly, a sporting boycott of Zimbabwe isn't going to mean much to Robert Mugabe personally, but any country which maintains normal sporting ties with Zimbabwe is, in effect, endorsing his regime. Once that message is made clear, prime ministers, presidents and their cabinet ministers will be less inclined to turn a blind eye. Sport is both a window into a country and a spotlight on it. I have seen and felt the effects of a sports boycott working.

I have some wonderful friends in Zimbabwe, in Zimbabwe Cricket for that matter; do you think I want to put them out of work, or deny them the pleasure that cricket brings? Of course I don't. But they would rather have democracy and a functioning economy than play the game while all around them is morally and financial bankrupt. As we used to say in South Africa: "No normal sport in an abnormal society." That can and should be applied to any country.

Rajah spent much of his life living under apartheid. His view is personal and not made on behalf of the national team or Cricket South Africa.


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