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date: 05 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This article examines sport in the Soviet Union, East Germany, and China. Despite the early Soviet emphasis on mass physical culture, high-performance sport was the priority of these regimes and all three notionally used ‘amateurism’ to enhance national prestige. Having started out as opponents of Olympism, all three at different times came to prioritize winning medals at the Olympic Games. Despite similarities in the organization of sport—the state played a significant role and ties to the military and police were strong in all three countries—there were significant differences between them: China rejected competitive sport for much of the Mao era, whereas sport was one arena in which the GDR outshone West Germany. The article shows that during the Cold War sport was as much an arena of competition between socialist states as it was between the capitalist and communist worlds.

Keywords: sport, Soviet Union, East Germany, China, amateurism, competitive sport, Olympic Games, Cold War

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