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Wiederkehr, Stefan

Sport Physicians and Sport Officials between Cold War Confrontation and Co-operative Rule Setting in International Sport Bodies

During the inter-war period, the Soviet Union had shunned the Olympics and ‘bourgeois’ sport. It had tried instead to establish a separate worldwide workers’ sport movement. After World War II, this policy of isolation was abandoned. The Soviet Union was not only among the founding members of the United Nations but also joined the Olympic movement in 1951 with Soviet athletes entering the Olympic Games for the first time in the summer of 1952. Their initial success at Helsinki opened a new front of the ‘Cultural Cold War’. Sporting competition came to be one of the most important political battlefields during the Cold War. Therefore, sport officials and sport physicians of the Eastern bloc had to cope with conflicting goals. On the one hand, they had to co-operate in the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and other bodies of world sport in order to standardize rules and to create one single world system of sports. On the other hand they had to make sure that the socialist countries took the victory on the stage of world sports.

This paper analyzes how, in this situation, socialist sport experts acted in international sport bodies and transnational networks. Based on archival materials from Poland and the IOC in Lausanne it also asks the question if rivalries within the Eastern bloc hindered interaction and knowledge transfer between socialist countries.

Friday 30 Oct, 16.15-18.15 SESSION 6
Panel: Backchannels of Cooperation