Sports have always been used to promote the nation state and the invention of national traditions with national symbols such as flags and national hymns playing an important role. This article looks at the peculiar situation of the post-war period when two Germanys established themselves also in the field of sports, yet cooperated in some athletic disciplines, and, most important of all, at the Olympic Games until 1968. This raised a great number of delicate political questions, particularly the politics of the nonrecognition of the GDR which strove hard to establish itself internationally by way of the international sports movement. Konrad Adenauer and the German Sports Organization clashed on this issue which brought to the fore the question of a German and an emerging West-German identity. In order to describe this negotiation of the nation state in the realm of sports, this article tries to make fruitful use of the term postnationalism in order to understand the ambiguities of identity of Germans towards their nation state. It also takes a brief look at the Olympic Games of 1972, which epitomizes more than anything else the peculiar postnationalism of the Federal Republic.
1972 saw the coming to fruition of two events of major importance to the Federal Republic of Germany under Willy Brandt's leadership: the normalization of relations with the Soviet Union and its satellites through the process of Ostpolitik, and the Munich Olympic Games, which were designed to present a new Germany on the world stage. Although recent scholarship has highlighted the intricacies of East-West diplomacy and the political machinations of Cold-War sports relations, there have been few attempts to investigate the latter's role in the former. This essay seeks to investigate sport in the context of politics, and more vitally vice versa. Focusing on events in the immediate run-up to the Four Powers Treaty on West Berlin in 1971, it shows how sport's appeal to broad sectors of public opinion in Eastern and Western Europe made it a prime candidate for the cultural warfare that accompanied political negotiations.
As preparations get under way for the celebration, in 2009, of the eightieth anniversary of Tintin and the fiftieth of Astérix, it seems strange that, until now, there has been no journal in English dedicated to European comic art. In France recent Astérix albums have outsold Harry Potter and The Da Vinci Code put together. The movie Astérix aux jeux olympiques [‘Asterix at the Olympic Games’], released on 13 January 2008, is one of the two most expensive French film productions of all time (with Le Cinquième élément [‘The Fifth Element’], on which cartoonists Jean Giraud and Jean-Claude Mézières collaborated), and has topped box office charts in Spain. Like Astérix in Paris, Belgian Schtroumpfs [‘Smurfs’] have their own theme park, and Italy’s Corto Maltese is popular enough to appear on scratchcards, Swatch watches and TV programmes across Europe.