By Info | February 25, 2010
The system of apartheid in South Africa existed in the field of sport as in all other walks of life. No ‘mixed’ sport was permitted by the official organisations which selected teams for international competitions. There were no open trials and competition was limited to whites only. This situation was well-known to the international sports bodies which granted unqualified recognition to the racialist, official organisations in South Africa.
Apartheid was not only limited to the level of administration of sport and selection of participants. As spectators, Africans, Coloureds and Indians were subjected to rigid racial segregation. Sports arenas had separate entrances, seating enclosures and toilet facilities for non-whites. At some arenas non-whites were banned altogether.
The international sports boycott of South Africa played a major role in bringing an end to apartheid:
“We understood, as South Africans, the significance of sport for white South Africa. It was like a religion. And if you hit them hard, then you were really getting the message across that they were not welcome in the world as long as they practiced racism in sport.” Abdul Minty, South African exile, British Anti-Apartheid Movement 1959 – 1994
A new film ‘Fair Play’ by director Connie Fields tells the story of the athletes and activists who pushed South Africa’s apartheid-era teams out of international sporting competitions, helping to bring the human rights crisis in South Africa to the forefront of global attention.
Listen to former South African cricket captain Dr Ali Bacher and Trevor Richards who founded the Halt All Racist Tours movement in New Zealand 40 years ago, speaking about the boycott on the Today programme on Radio 4.
In 1971 Abdul Minty prepared a paper for the United Nations Unit on Apartheid on the International Boycott of Apartheid Sport. Read it online and find out more about the role of the Anti-Apartheid in Britain in the boycott.