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Ritual Gone WrongWhat We Learn from Ritual Disruption$
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Kathryn T. McClymond

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780199790913

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199790913.001.0001

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Of Fists and Feathers

Of Fists and Feathers

The Modern Olympic Games

(p.106) 4 Of Fists and Feathers
Ritual Gone Wrong

Kathryn T. McClymond

Oxford University Press

This chapter reviews several “misperformances” in Olympic opening and victory ceremonies in the modern Olympic Games. Many of these disruptions were intentional, designed by athletes to draw public attention to specific concerns about existing Olympic practices or to protest political dynamics at work beyond the official parameters of the Olympic Games. The Olympic opening and victory ceremonies offer international public sites where ritual actors can challenge perceived contradictions between the stated values and the actual conduct of the Games on an international stage. Athletes can also display personal or political concerns in Olympic Games ceremonies. When Olympic rituals are disrupted, the intimate connection between the Games and international politics, race relations, nationalist identities, and other historical factors becomes clear. The examples discussed in this chapter demonstrate that complex negotiations are always at work between ritual tradition, ritual rule makers, ritual participants, and ritual observers in public ceremonies.

Keywords:   Mexico City, Tommie Smith, John Carlos, Pierre de Coubertin, Olympism, US men’s basketball, Munich, Sochi, Roland Barthes, Berlin

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