1970 Commonwealth Games Edinburgh
The 1970 Commonwealth Games, held in Edinburgh, Scotland, became a turning point in the international campaign to exclude Apartheid South Africa from international sport.
After protests against the Springbok rugby tour of Britain in late 1969 and early 1970, the efforts of anti-apartheid groups turned to stopping the Springbok cricket tour planned for later in 1970. African countries lent their weight to this effort, threatening to boycott the Edinburgh Games in July unless the tour was cancelled. The British government, in an election year, bowed to this pressure and ordered the cricketing authorities to stop the tour.
This cancellation is now seen as the beginning of the exclusion of South Africa from international sporting competition, which lasted two decades.
In 1982 the Commonwealth Games were held in Brisbane. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people used the international focus on the event to their benefit, bringing to light the injustices they faced every day by staging a protest.
It was US satirist John Oliver who once mocked the Commonwealth Games as an “off Broadway” Olympic Games. A legacy of our colonial past, the Commonwealth has been criticised not only for its sporting meets – in a world in which China is a growing point of friction, its economic and diplomatic relevancy have also been called into question.