The British Government and the Olympic movement: The 1948 London Olympics


Despite being the first Summer Olympics held after the Second World War, the 1948 London Olympics have failed to attract the historical interest accorded to subsequent Olympiads. Focusing upon the British government, this article explores the historical significance of the XIV Olympiad. Quite apart from helping to re-launch the Olympic movement following the lengthy gap since the 1936 Berlin games, the 1948 London Olympics offer useful insights into the development of both the Olympic movement and the policy of British governments towards the Olympics. Firstly, the event reaffirmed recent trends qualifying the Olympic movement's enduring attempt to stress that the Olympics really were 'games' rising above political and commercial issues; secondly, it prompted yet another chapter in the long-running controversy about sport's impact upon international relations; thirdly, despite marking substantial advances in the policy of British governments towards international sport, the Olympiad failed to usher in a significant change of course; and finally, the experience of hosting the Olympics transformed the attitudes of many Britons towards the Olympic movement at least in the short term.


Peter J. Black
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