Of Fists and Feathers

Kathryn T. McClymond

in Ritual Gone Wrong

Published in print May 2016 | ISBN: 9780199790913
Published online April 2016 | e-ISBN: 9780199369515 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Ritual Studies Series

Of Fists and Feathers

Show Summary Details


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

Chapter.  12575 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Religious Studies

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content. subscribe or purchase to access all content.