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Politics & Olympics: Ideals and Realities

Past Event
  • Weekdays from 9am to 8pm from Tue 1 May - Fri 7 Sep, with some exceptions. Please contact reception on 0207 324 2570 to check availability.
  • Free Word Centre

When the modern Olympics were conceived in the 1890s by Pierre de Coubertin, his dream was of “peaceful, courteous contests” that would “constitute the best form of internationalism”. Throughout its history the Olympic movement has associated itself with a shifting series of ideals, not least a desire to rise above politics.

Yet since their inception in 1896, the modern Games have provided a stage upon which the great political and social stories of the day have been played out – from debates about the participation of women in the early years of the twentieth century, through cold war diplomacy, the politics of race and freedom of speech, to today’s concerns about human rights, regeneration, security and corporate influence.

A cornerstone of the Politics and Olympics programme, this free exhibition of stories, images and ideas explores how political and commercial pressures have buffered the ideals and values of the Olympic movement.


Video by The Difference Engine.


Politics and Olympics: Ideals and Realities is supported by Fritt Ord. The exhibition is co-curated by Stephen Escritt and Nayia Yiakoumaki, with historical consultant Martin Polley. Initial research by Oskar Kvasnes; project idea by Britt Ormaasen.

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