skip to content
03 Jun 2005
IOC News , museum-news-articles

The rose, hammer and sickle and iron cross against the Olympic Games

Since the start of June, the Olympic Museum in Lausanne has been featuring a new philatelic exhibition covering the period from 1896 to 1940, which was a highly eventful time, particularly where sport is concerned. The exhibition describes the sports movements which were opposed to the Olympic Games.

Some history…
The re-establishment of the Olympic Games, represented since 1914 by the five rings, generated a universal current of elite sports and competitions. At the same time, national and international ideologies were born. Democracies flourished, totalitarian regimes arose and colonial empires slowly changed or even disappeared, and all this had an impact on sport and its different trends.

The rings amidst the storm
While the Olympic Movement proclaimed itself as apolitical and open to all, it could not escape the surrounding evolving and changing world. Politics and ideologies influenced the Olympic Games and had a continuous impact on the Olympic Movement. Unable to exist in isolation, the Games had to be defended against ideologies from left and right alike.

The rose, hammer and sickle…
In the 1930s, the socialists and social democrats organised Workers’ National Games and Workers’ Olympiads to the great displeasure of the IOC, which did not appreciate this appropriation of the term “Olympiad”. There was also the Red Sports International, created in 1921, which organised gatherings known as Spartakiades. While these continued to be held after the Second World War, they declined in importance.

…and the iron cross
For its part, in Germany the Deutsche Turnerschaft, the biggest gymnastics organisation in the world, was opposed to the Olympic Movement and its Games right from the start, calling on German gymnasts to boycott the Olympic Games. They did not fully participate in the Olympic Games until 1936. Moreover, the Deutsche Kampfspiele, the German national games, were born and held in protest at Germany’s exclusion from the 1920 Olympic Games in Antwerp and the 1924 Games in Paris.

Learn more on philately

Learn more on the Olympic Museum
back to top