SI Vault
Edited by Robert Sullivan
May 19, 1986
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May 19, 1986


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Last month the national Olympic committee of South Africa joined with the South African Sports Federation in formally urging an end to apartheid. The joint statement represented an apparent about-face by a leadership that had tacitly supported racial separatism, but it was also a pragmatic response to the long campaign, waged by the international sports community, to isolate South African sport. South African sports officials clearly want to be invited back into the Olympic movement, and want foreign athletes to be able to compete against their own without recrimination.

That goal remains elusive, in part because the playing fields of South Africa are not the bastion of integration that these sports officials would sometimes suggest. For example, blacks are still excluded from most South African golf clubs, and they can't use the squash court at Johannesburg's Braamfontein Recreation Centre. School teams in the Cape Province must still get permission from the Department of Education to play teams that include "non-whites."

Because of the persistence of separatism in sports and the rest of South African society, the fight to shun South Africa goes on. Since 1981 the United Nations Centre Against Apartheid has published semiannual lists of athletes who compete in South Africa and of South Africans who compete abroad. The purpose is to ostracize South Africa in international sport. A challenge to this effort occurred last month when the U.S. Gymnastics Federation sent a 12-member team—the only Americans among 6,000 athletes from 17 countries—to compete in the South African Games. USGF president Mike Donahue has condemned executive director Mike Jacki's decision to send the squad, and criticism of the trip has been heavy by those who still consider playing with South Africa a bad idea.


During a personal appearance last week by Jack Nicklaus in Columbus, Ohio, a questioner, apparently from Indiana, asked the Masters champion, "When are you coming back to Fort Wayne?"

"Coming back?" Nicklaus said. "It has to be 30 years since I played there."

"You set a course record," he was told.

"Does the course record still stand?"


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