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Unformatted text preview: Back to Amazon.com 1 Five Rings and A Swastika The Real Story of the 1936 Olympics by RICHARD A. LORD H osting the Olympics is a major prestige event, both for the host city and the country that city happens to be a part of. But it's an especially important form of prestige for countries that...shall we say, have a scratchy PR problem. That certainly pertains to the People's Republic of China, in whose capital city the next summer Olympics will be held. Just under a year from now, on 8 August, 2008, a most propitious date (eight being the luckiest of all numbers in Chinese numerology), the XXVIII Olympiad will officially open in Beijing. As they say, prediction is always a risky business, especially when it involves the future, but I am willing right now to toss up a number of bold predictions about that Olympics and the final lead-ups to them. First of all, the Chinese government and the people of Beijing will roll out a lavish red carpet for the athletes and the visitors. Beijing will look the best in has in decades, perhaps in Richard A. Lord Five Rings and A Swastika 2 centuries. That one was easy. The 2008 Olympics in Beijing promise to be a grand spectacle as the Chinese government along with its allied agencies and companies are going all out to host the world in high fashion. They obviously intend the Games as a platform to show off the many achievements of the New China. Oh yes, and the Chinese Olympic Committee, the coaches and the authorities will do everything they possibly can to see that China tops the medals table this time. (They came in second to America last time.) They will want this to be the Chinese Olympics in every possible sense. It's also clear that the so-called Communist Party, which still keeps an iron grip on much of Chinese life, will do everything it can to keep politics at a minimum, nothing above a whisper. And yet politics, domestic and international, will be the quiet but constant background hum against which these Games will be played. I make these predictions by looking back in history, almost three-quarters of a century, to an earlier Olympics where international politics and popular perceptions first played a major role. The reference, of course, id to the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, the so-called Nazi Olympics. It might be good to take another look at that period, especially since there is so much misunderstanding and misinformation about those Berlin Games and how they came off. Then we'll have a better appreciation of the Olympics we're about to experience. That first German Olympics had a shaky history even before the '36 games. While the 1912 Olympics were winding up in Stockholm, Berlin was chosen to host the 1916 event; those Games were, however, early casualties of the First World War (the first time the modern Games had ever been canceled). In the first postwar games, held in Antwerp, Belgium, Germany was not even allowed to participate, a punishment also meted out to Germany's major Central Powers...
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