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Paris 2024 Olympics: exhibit looks at political history on Olympic stage

People visit the "Olympism. A history of the world 1896-2024" exhibition at the France's National Museum of the History of Immigration, in Paris. 24/04/2024   -  
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Thibault Camus/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved.


A new exhibit in Paris is taking a look at the social and political history of the last 30 Olympiads ahead of the 2024 Summer Olympic Games.

Through a vast collection of artworks, photos and pop culture objects France's Immigration History Museum is exploring the history of conflict, political strife, and struggle on the Olympic stage since the modern Games were first organised in 1896.

"When you are talking about Olympic Games, you are talking about politics, about society because sport is definitely political," says historian and co-curator Stéphane Mourlane.

"Even the first Olympic Games in Athens in 1896, this first Olympic Games was like a celebration of Greek nationalism, and we can talk about all the 30 Olympic Games and each one is political."

Vintage posters explore the impact of the rise of nationalism in Europe and how the Olympics became propaganda machines for totalitarian regimes in the 30s and late into the Cold War era.

Juxtaposed with propaganda material, images of sporting heroes depict the fight against oppression.

One iconic photo of African American athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos, extending gloved hands skyward in protest, at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, stands next to portraits of lesser known but equally brave sporting heroes, fighting discrimination against minorities, political oppression, and imperialism.

"This exhibition is also a history of emancipation about the struggle for freedom, a struggle for democracy," says Mourlane.

"Olympism: a History of the World" opens at France's Immigration History Museum in Paris on Friday 26 April, and will run until 8 September.

The opening ceremony for the Paris Summer Olympic Games will take place on July 26.

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