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When the Modern Olympics were conceived in the 1890s by Pierre de Coubertin his dream was of “peaceful, courteous contests” that would “constitute the best form of internationalism”. Throughout its history, the Olympic movement has associated itself with a shifting series of ideals, not least a desire to rise above politics.
Yet since their inception in 1896, the modern Games have provided a stage on which the great political and social stories of the day have been played out – from debates about the participation of women in the early years of the twentieth century, through cold war diplomacy, the politics of race and freedom of speech, to today’s concern about human rights, regeneration, security and corporate influence.
This blog explores how political and commercial pressures have buffeted the ideals and values of the Olympic movement in the past, and how they continue to influence the Games today. It runs in parallel with an exhibition of the same name at the Free Word Centre in London, which opened in May 2012 and runs until the close of the Paralympic Games in September.
Learn more at www.freewordonline.com