Winning hearts and medals : the Olympics and the Cold War : 1948-1968 / Erin Elizabeth Redihan

Redihan, Erin Elizabeth

Edited by ProQuest. Ann Arbor - 2015

This project examines how the Cold War and the Olympic Movement affected each other between 1948 and 1968. As Cold War tensions increased, the United States and the Soviet Union began to look for means of demonstrating cultural and ideological supremacy outside of the defined political realm. The Soviet Union’s announcement that it would compete in 1952 drew the Olympics into this struggle for all-around dominance. The Olympic Movement proved quite conducive to this objective because the Games provided a highly visible yet low stakes venue in which the superpowers could compete. Using International Olympic Committee records, government documents, and contemporary newspapers and periodicals from both sides of the Iron Curtain, this project looks chronologically at each Olympiad between 1948 and 1968, focusing on how Cold War tensions affected IOC proceedings as well as events at the Olympics themselves. While the superpowers took contrasting approaches to developing their elite athletes and in their quests to win the Olympic medal count, they shared the belief that the Games were a critical ideological proving ground. The twenty-year period from 1948 to 1968 is the focus of this project because it was marked by the superpowers’ growing realization that the Olympics were now part of the Cold War and deserved to be treated as an important component of this contest for supremacy. Consequently, both Moscow and Washington increasingly sought to use the Games as a means to the end of demonstrating cultural dominance, with Olympic medals serving as proof of supremacy.

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