“One-Tenth of a Second Does Not Really Count”: Humphrey Khosi, Olympic Ultimatums, and the Tortured Logic of the South African Amateur Athletic Union of 1962

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One month before the International Olympic Committee issued an ultimatum in June 1962 that South Africa would be suspended from the 1964 Tokyo Olympics unless the government changed its policy on sport, an international track and field meet held in Lourenço Marques exposed the failure of the South African sport establishment to break with apartheid. Despite announcing that they would accept any athlete who merited inclusion, the South African Amateur Athletic Union ultimately selected a team made up of exclusively white runners even though two Black runners produced faster times than their white rivals. Though most accounts of the events preceding the suspension of South Africa from the 1964 Tokyo Olympics have focused on the successes and setbacks of the non-racial sport campaign interpolated with decisions taken by the International Olympic Committee, the moral collapse of South African track and field leaders in 1962 demonstrated to Olympic officials in Lausanne that despite promises of inclusion, apartheid policies would prevail.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)41-62
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Olympic Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • History
  • Cultural Studies

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