Patriot Games.

Nobody wins when nations play politics with the Olympics

The idea of Olympic boycott as political protest goes back at least to 1956. Several European countries refused to go to Melbourne because the Soviet Union had crushed the Hungarian uprising, while some Middle East nations stayed away because of a fight over control of the Suez Canal.

All these years later, it's not clear how keeping athletes out of a track meet in Australia was supposed to affect postcolonial politics in Egypt. But by the 1970s and 1980s, boycotts were as much a part of the Olympics as spandex is today. The U.S. boycotted the Moscow Olympics. The Soviets boycotted...

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