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Just saying 'bravo kids' and giving them some gifts is not enough : amateurism, Turkish wrestling, and the Olympic Games / Sabri Özçakır, Matthew P. Llewellyn

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Özçakır, Sabri | Llewellyn, Matthew P

The Republic of Turkey embraced international Olympic sport as an affair of the state. Sport, in particular, the ancestor sport of wrestling, was heralded as an important tool in the cultivation and propogation of an incipient Turkish national identity. The dominance of Turkish wrestlers at the 1948 summer Olympic Games in London revealed the nationalistic importance of sport in Turkey. Eager to recognize the accomplishments of their champion wrestlers, the Turkish public joined forces with journalists and governmental officials in launching an official cash reward scheme. In direct violation of the International Olympic Committee’s anti-profiteering rules concerning amateurism, Turkish Olympic medallists received monetary prizes. When the wave of nationalistic euphoria subsided, Turkish Olympic officials were forced to acknowledge the consequences of the nation’s magnanimity. On the eve of the 1952 Olympic Games, the Turkish Olympic Committee (TOC) stripped the nation’s champion wrestlers of their amateur status and promptly prohibited them from competing in the Finnish capital. The TOC’s decision provoked a national outcry. High-ranking governmental officials called upon the TOC to reverse its decision. Unable to make late amendments to its roster of Olympic participants, the TOC reported that Turkey’s athletic heroes would not be permitted to defend their Olympic titles in Helsinki..

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