Olympic Study Day 2022 in Münster: Critical reflections on Olympic boycotts
For the third time, the Willibald Gebhardt Institute hosted the Olympic Study Day at Muenster University on June 21, 2022. WGI Vice President Prof. Dr. Michael Krüger was able to win over his colleague from the Institute of Sports Science at WWU, Prof. Dr. Henk Erik Meier, for a lecture and subsequent discussion with the students and guests. In an exciting and entertaining lecture, Meier examined the topic of Olympic boycotts from a historical, (sports) political and social science perspective. In this context, he emphasized the still high significance of the Olympic Games worldwide due to the strong political symbolism of the Games and, in particular, the images and national narratives created by participating.
From a historical perspective, Henk Erik Meier recalled the Great Boycotts of Moscow 1980 and Los Angeles 1984, as well as the boycott discussions surrounding Berlin 1936 and the (forgotten) boycotts surrounding Melbourne 1956 and Montreal 1976. For Meier, one thing stands out: When it comes to the subject of Olympic boycotts – which have always failed to achieve their domestic and foreign policy goals in the past – more political realism is warranted. As is the realization that the Western goals and views that often underlie the calls for boycotts are not necessarily universally shared. “Anyone who wants to initiate change should choose the path of reforming the selection process and criteria rather than a boycott,” Meier concluded.
WGI President Dr. Heinz Aschebrock welcomed about 50 participants, andwas pleased about the opportunity to meet and discuss in person, after the Olympic Study Day 2021 he and Prof. Krüger were only able to invite to an online event. The founder of the Willibald Gebhardt Institute, Prof. Dr. Roland Naul, emphasized the historical perspective of the event: because the Olympic Study Day 2022 in Münster is part of the series of events for the 30th anniversary, which the WGI celebrates in 2022. “Especially in the context of ethical, moral value development in and through (Olympic) sports, the WGI has a long tradition, which will be continued with this event,” said Naul.