Webinar series: The Olympic Games

Running June-July 2024

The Olympic Games:
Culture and political impact across the twentieth century

A series of free talks

2024 is an Olympic Games year. Held every four years (with the exception of during the World Wars and Covid-19 restrictions), the modern Olympics is the largest international sporting event in the world. However, historically it has not always been just the sports that are played and the athletes’ performances that make an impact. The modern Olympics have been the focus for international politics, tensions, prejudice, acts of resistance and acts of violence.

Social, cultural and political talks

To mark the Games of the XXXIII Olympiad, being held in Paris this summer, we have brought together five academics to give five talks on a social, cultural or political aspect of the Games. All the talks are available to listen to live for free. 

Tuesday 11 June

From White City to Wembley: London’s Olympic Games before 2012 Read more

Professor Martin Polley

Monday 24 June

The Olympian Politics of Civil Rights
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Dr Andrew Fearnley

Thursday 4 July

Sport in NATO: Bidding for the 1968 Olympic Games during the Cold War
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Dr Heather Dichter

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Monday 8 July

The 1972 Munich Olympics and the German Politics of the Past
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Professor Kay Schiller

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Wednesday 17 July

‘The Expulsion of White Supremacist States: The International Olympic Committee, Rhodesia, and Apartheid South Africa’

Dr Daniel Feather

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About the speakers

Professor Martin Polley is the Director of the International Centre for Sports History and Culture at De Montfort University and is the author of The British Olympics: Britain’s Olympic heritage 1612-2012 (English Heritage, 2011).


Andrew Fearnley is an historian of the twentieth-century United States at the University of Manchester, and the programme director for American Studies. He has wide-ranging interests in African American intellectual history, urban studies, and the histories of leisure and sport. He has published on the financing of activism among Black Power groups; the design and international circulation of Black Power books; and the role of periodization in Anglo-American historiography. He co-edited a collection with Daniel Matlin about the changing place and profile of Harlem, New York, entitled Race Capital? Harlem as Setting and Symbol (New York, 2018). He is currently working on a project looking at the remaking of sports spectatorship and the presentation of live sports in the US from the 1980s on. 

Dr Heather L. Dichter is associate professor of sport history and sport management at the International Centre for Sports History and Culture at De Montfort University in Leicester. She is the author of Bidding for the 1968 Olympic Games: International Sport's Cold War Battle with NATO (Massachusetts, 2021) and the editor of Soccer Diplomacy: Football and International Relations Since 1914 (Kentucky, 2020), which was a finalist for the Football Book of the Year at the Telegraph Sports Book Awards. She has also co-edited Diplomatic Games: Sport, Statecraft, and International Relations since 1945 (Kentucky, 2014) with Andrew Johns and Olympic Reform Ten Years Later (Routledge, 2012) with Bruce Kidd. Her published articles and book chapters focus on international sport, Germany, diplomacy, and the Cold War.

Kay Schiller is a historian of twentieth-century Germany. He has published articles and books on German cultural and sports history, including on the history of football, on modern German-Jewish history and on the history of the Federal Republic and the GDR. He has co-edited a volume on German sport history and the history of the FIFA World Cup, co-authored a monograph on the 1972 Munich Olympic Games, the award-winning The 1972 Olympics and the Making of Modern Germany, and written a monograph on the 1974 FIFA World Cup in West Germany. His most recent book (2022) is a biography of the Jewish-German sprinter, antifascist activist, émigré to Britain and post-war journalist and writer Alex Natan (1906-71). He is currently researching (with Udi Carmi) the influence of German sports models in sports in Palestine and Israel, with a special focus on the activities of the Zionist sports functionary Emmanuel Ernst Simon (1898-1988).

Dr Daniel Feather is a Senior Lecturer in History teaching in the areas of imperial, African, and international history. His research examines UK policy towards southern Africa. He is currently undertaking a British Academy (BA) funded project analysing British policy towards cultural relations with Rhodesia from 1965 to 1980. This follows on from a doctoral project which culminated in a monograph entitled 'British Cultural Diplomacy in South Africa, 1960-1994'. He has published articles in leading international and diplomatic history journals and obtained multiple research grants from bodies such as the Royal Historical Society, the British International Studies Association, and the British Society of Sports History. Dan has worked collaboratively with organisations such as the British Council and AM Digital and is also a Research Associate at the University of Pretoria and an Extraordinary Researcher at North West University, Mahikeng. Dan is also a founding member of the International History and Diplomacy research collective.