The arrests of activists attempting to disrupt the appearance of Israeli Tennis player Shahar Peer has brought the issue of politics and sport back into the public eye.
At the time of the anti-apartheid struggle, the issue was of great importance in New Zealand because here, it was sporting contact with racist South Africa that became the focus of protest action. New Zealand and South Africa had longstanding sporting rivalries, particularly in rugby, so attempting to end sporting contact between the Springboks and the All Blacks became a major part of the New Zealand anti-apartheid movement’s work throughout its history.
During the 1981 Springbok tour, a major thrust of the pro-tour lobby was that sport and politics should not mix, that the purity of sport should not be sullied by its being immersed in the murky business of politics, and that sports people should be left to get on with the serious business of playing their sport and entertaining the spectators. Often, such arguments were simply a disingenuous attempt by apologists for the racist South African regime to weaken the campaign against the white South African state. Read the rest of this entry »