Re-Entering the Sporting World: China's Sponsorship of the 1963 Games of the New Emerging Forces (GANEFO)by Russell Field

The International Journal of the History of Sport

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Year
2014
DOI
10.1080/09523367.2014.922545
Subject
Arts and Humanities (all)

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Re-Entering the Sporting World: China's

Sponsorship of the 1963 Games of the

New Emerging Forces (GANEFO)

Russell Fielda a Faculty of Kinesiology and Recreation Management, University of

Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Published online: 12 Jun 2014.

To cite this article: Russell Field (2014) Re-Entering the Sporting World: China's Sponsorship of the 1963 Games of the New Emerging Forces (GANEFO), The International Journal of the History of

Sport, 31:15, 1852-1867, DOI: 10.1080/09523367.2014.922545

To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09523367.2014.922545

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Re-Entering the Sporting World: China’s Sponsorship of the 1963

Games of the New Emerging Forces (GANEFO)

Russell Field*

Faculty of Kinesiology and Recreation Management, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba,

Canada

Prior to the 2008 Olympics, China’s most sustained support of an international multisport event came in 1963 when it contributed significantly to the financing of and then dominated the medals table at the inaugural Games of the New Emerging Forces (GANEFO), held in Jakarta. GANEFO is a singular moment through which to understand politics and sport in the 1960s. This article is a consideration of China’s role in GANEFO, and the West’s response to China’s involvement. It explores the ways in which China used the event to navigate issues of international and regional geopolitics, and considers the diplomatic and sporting corridors within which GANEFO resonated.

GANEFO was a platform through which geopolitical tensions were revealed, and

China engaged in propaganda campaigns directed at the West and positioned itself to win allies among the decolonising countries of Asia and Africa – astride the artificial boundary that separated the Second and Third Worlds. China’s interest in and the

West’s response to GANEFO reflected the ways in which anti-communist Cold War politics were conflated with racialised, post-colonial discourses and tension between

Second World powers.

Keywords: GANEFO; China; Indonesia; Olympics; geopolitics

When an outsider noted of a significant moment in Chinese sporting history that the world’s most populous nation ‘took her place in the international community of sports, and did so in a brilliant manner’, it might be assumed that such praise came in the wake of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.1 These comments, however, were made 45 years earlier, by an American observer of a little-remembered multi-sport event that took place in Jakarta,

Indonesia. November 2013 marked the 50th anniversary of this contentious (at the time) moment in the history of decolonisation and international sport, one in which the People’s

Republic of China (hereafter, China) played a central role. Prior to the 2008 Olympics,

China’s most sustained support of an international multi-sport event came in 1963 when it contributed significantly to the financing of and then dominated the medals table at the inaugural Games of the New Emerging Forces (GANEFO), held in Jakarta.

GANEFO is a singular moment through which to understand politics and sport in the 1960s. This article is drawn from a larger work-in-progress that places GANEFO at the intersection of sport and politics in the 1960s and seeks to combine the diplomatic and archival record with oral history narratives to incorporate the history of this alternative multi-sport event within discourses of decolonisation and international sport. The present article is a consideration of China’s role in GANEFO, which occurred at a time when

China had withdrawn from the international Olympic movement over the issue of the q 2014 Taylor & Francis *Email: russell.field@umanitoba.ca

The International Journal of the History of Sport, 2014

Vol. 31, No. 15, 1852–1867, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09523367.2014.922545

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U niv ers ity of

O vie do ] a t 0 6:5 4 2 3 O cto be r 2 01 4 recognition of Taiwan, the Republic of China. In examining China’s relation to GANEFO, this article explores the ways in which China used the event to navigate issues of international and regional geopolitics, and considers the diplomatic and sporting corridors within which GANEFO resonated. In turn, the implications of China’s interest in

GANEFO for its relationship to the First, Second and Third Worlds are considered, while recognising that these geopolitical ties cannot be so easily separated.