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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. [Volume 39, Number 2. 11th March 1976]

Multi-National Farce

Multi-National Farce

The biggest multi-national farce to date has been the South African Games, held in Pretoria in March 1973. In a report submitted to the U.S. Amateur Athletic Union, Stan Wright, Chairman of the American Amateur Athletics Union's Men's Track and Field Committee made the following observations:
  • none of the athletes chosen to represent South Africa in many branches of sport were selected through an open championship based on merit
  • segregated seating prevailed throughout the games
  • the presence of four separate Track and Field Federations based on colour violates international rules
The current issue of The South African Swimmer, the newsletter of the non-racial South African Amateur Swimming Federation sums up the situation well:

The purpose of multi-national sports meetings is stark and clear for it is intended to persuade the unsuspecting outside this country into believing that apartheid does not effect sport. How untrue! We would rather deny ourselves the doubtful 'distinction' of participating in the multi-nationals so long as we suffer, for the rest of the year, the indignity of being contained, confined, controlled, and contaminated by the shackles of group areas, separate development, an official state 'sports policy' and the full gambit of racial legislation under which we have suffered since 1652.'

When white sports administrators wish to organise 'multi-national' meetings to hoodwink the world, the Government waives the 1966 Group Areas Act (which makes inter racial functions illegal on public premises). But when the non-racial organisations want to hold matches, they must face either rejection or constant harassment by the police.

At the moment the sports policy in South Africa is balanced on a knife edge, trying to reconcile the pulls of world opinion with the demands of its own hard liners.

Whether white supremacy will remain in the saddle of South African sport to a large extent depends on the outside world. If we capitulate now and allow her back into the fold, the so-called multi-national policy will be frozen solid and there will be no reason for white South Africa to move any further.

But if the world stands firm and demands the full and uncompromising introduction of non-racial sport at club level, then the Government will be forced to change in the knowledge that international opinion will be satisfied with nothing less than fully integrated club-level sport and national teams selected on merit by non-racial sporting organisations.