Olympics a Stage for Political Contests, Too The Olympics serve not only as an arena where the best athletes in the world compete, but also as a place where international politics collide. Former Olympic athletes discuss the long history of politics at the games: from Cold War boycotts, to Black Power protests, to today's human rights concerns in China.

Olympics a Stage for Political Contests, Too

Listen to this 'Talk of the Nation' topic

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/87767864/87767853" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Listen to this 'Talk of the Nation' topic

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/87767864/87767853" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

American track and field athletes Tommie Smith (center) and John Carlos (right) protest with the Black Power salute as they stand on the winner's podium at the 1968 Summer Olympic games in Mexico City. Hulton Archive/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

American track and field athletes Tommie Smith (center) and John Carlos (right) protest with the Black Power salute as they stand on the winner's podium at the 1968 Summer Olympic games in Mexico City.

Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The Olympics serve not only as an arena where the best athletes in the world compete, but also as a place where international politics collide. Former Olympic athletes discuss the long history of politics at the games: from Cold War boycotts, to Black Power protests, to today's human rights concerns in China.

Guests:

Joey Cheek, American speed skater; after the 2006 winter games he donated his $25,000 gold medal award from the U.S. Olympic Committee to Darfur refugees

Anita DeFrantz, Olympic bronze medalist; president of the LA84 Foundation and member of International Olympic Committee; could not compete when U.S. boycotted the Olympic games in 1980, in protest of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan

Tommie Smith, American track and field athlete from the 1968 Olympic games who stood on the podium with his fist raised in a Black Power salute

Robert Cox, president and founder of the Media Bloggers Association; blogs at the Olympic games

Margaret Lambert, former high jumper; was supposed to be on the German Olympic team for the 1936 Olympics but received a letter shortly before the games telling her that her performances did not qualify