chapter  17
10 Pages

Afterword. ‘No other anything . . .’: The Olympic Games yesterday and today: John Sugden and Alan Tomlinson


At the end of the last chapter we were reminded of Big Brother, that literary invention of George Orwell’s which has become emblematic of invisible forms of control. If Orwell had been so minded, and well enough to make the journey cross town, then in August 1948, instead of posting the manuscript for 1984, he could have hand-delivered it to his publisher in London’s Vauxhall Bridge Road before jumping on a red double-decker bus to travel north-west to the Empire Stadium Wembley to watch some of the athletics events in the 1948 Olympics. At six shillings each, in a period of post-war austerity, tickets were relatively easy to come by. For his money, at the track Orwell would have been treated to the trials and tribulations of some of the spirited amateur sportsmen and women who had come to London from 59 different countries. There were some notable absences. As retribution for its part in World War II, the host of the last pre-war Olympics in Berlin, Germany, was barred from taking part as was Japan, which, before war broke out, had won the right to host the 1940 Games in Tokyo. The Soviet Union was not there either, recovering as it was from the devastation of the conflict, and also adjudging itself to be not yet ready to take its brewing ideological struggle with the western powers onto the sports field.