26 APRIL 1968, Page 2

One out, all out

When the International Olympic Committee decided to admit South Africa to the 1968 Games the SPECTATOR thought the decision right. The South Africans had agreed to make a significant change in their attitude to racial segregation. Now, on completely different grounds, the committee has acquiesced in the exclusion of South Africa after all :, and again the decision, so far as it goes, is right. Be- tween the two events lies the murder of Martin Luther King. In view of 'the interna- tional climate' the committee felt a South African contingent at Mexico would be too great a risk. Riots, demonstrations and per- haps even worse could be foreseen. Before such a threat a prudent retreat was decided upon.

This is sensible enough. The Olympic Games have no cause to add knowingly to the quota of violence in the world. But the committee ought to have nerved itself to pur- sue its own logic. If the world is so explosive, there is precious little case for holding any Olympics at all until matters improve. It would have been better to call the whole thing off. This would have been bad luck for Mexico, but bad luck, like hatred, is a fact of life. Since the Olympic committee flinched from this decision, the countries which have long supported the Games ought to make it clear now that after 1968 they will no longer be interested. In the state they have dwindled into, the Olympic Games will be no loss.