Trans-national resistance forces South Africa out of the Mexico City Summer Olympics, 1968


To end apartheid in South Africa.
To prevent South Africa from participating in the Summer 1986 Olympics.

Time period

January, 1968 to April, 1968


South Africa

Location Description

This campaign was the cooperative effort of around 43 countries.
Jump to case narrative


The African Supreme Council for Sports


American Committee on Africa

External allies

South African Sports Association
South African Non-Racial Olympic Committee

Involvement of social elites

Everyone who was involved was a social elite because they were politicians, Olympic organizers, and athletes who were concerned with the political effect of the Olympics.


South African National Committee
South African Olympic Committee

Nonviolent responses of opponent

Not known

Campaigner violence

Not known

Repressive Violence

Not known


Human Rights



Group characterization

international politicians

Groups in 1st Segment

South African Non-racial Olympic Committee (exit)
International Olympic Committee

Groups in 2nd Segment

American Committee on Africa
Olympic Project for Human Rights

Segment Length

Approximately 3 weeks

Success in achieving specific demands/goals

6 out of 6 points


1 out of 1 points


3 out of 3 points

Total points

10 out of 10 points

Notes on outcomes

The efforts of the boycott led to the exclusion of the South African team from participating in the Olympics until they could prove an end in apartheid practices and instead instate a racially equal method of obtaining and treating Olympic athletes.

Database Narrative

During the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) banned the South African team from participating in the Olympics in order to demonstrate the unified and international disapproval of South African apartheid. 

In order to participate in the Olympics in 1968, South Africa tried to change its policy to better satisfy IOC demands.  In April 1967 South Africa implemented a “New Sports Policy,” which was intended to develop a mixed race team in order to fulfill the requirements and standards set by IOC. The South African Prime Minister, B. J. Vorster, developed the policy with the hopes of competing in the 1968 Summer Olympics.  

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) looked favorably on the reformed policy in 1968, but many nations were suspicious of the policy and the extent to which equality was truly upheld for South African athletes.  In South Africa each of the Asian, White, African, and Colored team groups completed separate trials before the mixed-race team was chosen.  On 1 February 1968 the IOC investigated the South African sports policy.  On 16 February 1968, the committee voted to allow the Republic of South Africa to participate in the Summer Olympics.

Many nations then mobilized to boycott the Summer Olympics of 1968 to make clear their disapproval of South African apartheid practices.  Those countries believed that the reformed policy did not ensure equality for nonwhite South African athletes.   

The Supreme Council for Sport in Africa initiated the boycott campaign against South Africa’s participation in the Summer Olympics of 1968.  The Supreme Council for Sport in Africa was a coalition of 32 countries in Africa, and the 32 were unanimous on this issue. Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Cuba, and Somalia all joined in the boycott.  India and the Soviet Union threatened to join the boycott as well. 

American athletes who joined the boycott signed a statement: stating “I join the protest of the Supreme Council for Sport in Africa against South Africa’s participation in the 1968 Olympic Games.  Racial discrimination is a violation of the Olympic rules, and South Africa continues to ignore this principle even in her projected ‘new sports policy.’ This policy reflects the apartheid system which governs all of South African life because, according to the plan, South Africa’s Olympic Team would only be selected after separate racial competitions were held for each different racial group.  In addition, sports and spectators would continue to be segregated within South Africa. Therefore, South Africa should not be readmitted to the 1968 Olympics.”

In April 1968 the IOC officially withdrew its invitation to South Africa to participate in the summer Olympics.  The boycotting countries then proceeded to participate in the Olympics that took place in October 1968. 

The ban against South African participation in the Olympics continued until 1992 when South Africa appeared to be making headway in ending apartheid and finally demonstrating equal treatment of all athletes.


The efforts of the South African Sports Association and South African Non-racial Olympic Committee of South Africa brought light to the controversy and problems associated with apartheid practices in the athletic arena.


[1] American Committes on Africa. 11 Jan 1968. Retrieved 17 Mar. 2013. <>.
[2] Blackman, Dexter Ph.D. “African Americans, Pan-Africanism, and the Anti-Apartheid Campaign to Expel South Africa From the 1968 Olympics.” The Journal of Pan Afrrican Studies, vol. 5 no. 3, June 2012. Retrieved 17 Mar. 2013. <>.
[3] Ibrahim, Youssef M. “Olympics; Olympics Committee Ends Its Ban On Participation by South Africa.” 10 July 1991. Retrieved 17 Mar. 2013. <>.
[4] “South Africa Is banned from the Olympic Games.” 18 August 1964. Retrieved 17 Mar. 2013 <>.
[5] “Statement by Jackie Robinson and K.C. Jones…” 8 Feb 1968. Retrieved 17 Mar. 2013. <>
[6] “The Olympics: Boycotting South Africa” 8 Mar. 1968. Retrieved 17 Mar. 2013. <,33009,900012,00.html>.

Name of researcher, and date dd/mm/yyyy

Sarah Gonzales, 17/03/2013