International sport and the end of apartheid.
The thesis evaluates the significance of sport's contribution to the end of
apartheid by locating sport in a network of international relations. Sports diplomacy is
identified as a relatively low-cost, low-risk but high profile tool of diplomatic policy. It is
argued that the profile of sport in South Africa made the apartheid system particularly
susceptible to sports based protest. The study makes a case for a degree of theoretical
fusion to provide an appropriate context within which to analyse the unique nature of the
Anti-Apartheid campaign. As an international issue, the politics of the Anti-Apartheid
movement are substantially encapsulated within a pluralist framework. It is
acknowledged that to rely totally on such a framework would risk failing to capture the
multi-layered nature of the conflict over apartheid. An adapted version of hegemony
sport theory is therefore used to conceptualise the South African social formation and
the practice of sport therein.
In the absence of quantitative measures, two measures of significance are
proposed. First, the capacity of sports based protest to influence the policies of
international sports organisations and international bodies such as the United Nations and
the Commonwealth. Second, the ability of sport to prompt responses from the
government and in doing so, for sport to act as a prototype for more politically
significant measures that paved the way for the transformation to democracy. Attention
is paid to the processes through which sport became a globally visible feature of the
Anti-Apartheid movement. It is argued that the global profile of sport contributed to a
more coherent understanding of apartheid policies and in tum prompted policy actors to
penalise (white) South Africa in the form of international isolation from sport.
The research for the thesis has been conducted part-time since February 1994. It
necessitated a research visit to South Mrica in the summer of 1997, and involved
primary and secondary data collection, and elite interviewing in both South Mrica and
the United Kingdom. Unpublished data sources in Pretoria and Cape Town, and South
African newspapers have been used extensively.
It is concluded that domestic sports protest highlighted the injustices of apartheid
to the international community and contributed to establishing a non-racial ideology that
is the foundation of democratic South Africa. International sports sanctions, in the form
of the sports boycott of South Mrica, provided a form of cultural diplomacy to state and
non-state actors alike that fulfilled an important symbolic function and served to maintain
the profile of the Anti-Apartheid campaign as an important global social movement. The
accelerated readmission of South Mrica to international sport was an example that sports
sanctions were also designed to promote change in addition to their punitive intent.