- Brazil Goes Olympic: Historical Fragments from Brazil and the Olympic Movement until 1936 by De Franceschi Neto-Wacker, Marcia and Christian Wacker
This book represents the completion of historical research and systematic reflection that has produced for more than fifteen years a corpus of relevant research and work in the context of Olympic studies. Much of this material was part of the authors′ previous work. Nevertheless, this book emphasizes the fundamentals of sport itself in Brazil in an important time frame that reveals much of the beginning of a trajectory that culminates with the selection of a Brazilian city as Olympic host for the first time in history.
In the wake of Manoel Tubino, Lamartine DaCosta, Norbert Muller, and Karl Lennartz, the authors aspire to organize historical fragments that undoubtedly help to clarify the elements that make up the complex world of the Olympic sports, especially in Brazil. These elements, and the fact that Brazil will host the 2016 Olympic games, make this book a worthy choice. In this regard, the authors highlight as much as possible about the choice of Rio de Janeiro as a representative for the entire South American continent. From [End Page 170] the very beginning of the work, De Franceschi Neto-Wacker and Wacker introduced and encompassed important explanatory social, cultural, and political concepts.
The authors address in detail the way Brazil became an Olympic country, emerging from Pierre de Coubertin′s motivations. His idea of internationalization in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries was restricted to Europe, due to various difficulties, among them the lack of representatives to the Olympic movement itself and even the natural geographical distances in a time when long distance travel was completed by ship. These difficulties in the beginning of the so-called modern Olympic Movement, widely discussed by the international literature (many listed in the bibliography of this book) make up the backdrop of the first chapter of the book.
Besides Coubertin′s motivations, the authors go beyond by holding forth on the strategy used by him in the early days of the Olympics, using the World Exhibitions as allies, mentioned by the authors as “the stages for internationalism” (p. 59). It is from this point (Chapter 2) that the first Brazilian Olympic characters are properly introduced. De Franceschi Neto-Wacker and Wacker made the intricate relationship between sports and politics unequivocal, both in the Brazilian and worldwide scope. From the idea that “sport is not an end but a means,” athletes, politicians, academics and society at large, have always made use of it as it suited them. The authors position themselves well on issues seen often as complex and delicate.
Examples covered by De Franceschi Neto-Wacker and Wacker, include the relationship between Brazil and Germany (it is worth mentioning here the bi-nationality of the authors—German and Brazilian) and CBD-COB (Confederação Brasileira de Desportos-Comitê Olímpico Brasileiro), although the former are current, which leads to another popular saying “history repeats itself” (Chapters 3 and 4). Historically, the sport had positive aspects well characterized in the fundamental principles of Olympism. And just like anything else in life, it also has its negative aspects. This ambiguity is a characteristic that makes it fascinating.
Despite the many negative aspects of Brazilian participation in the beginning of the modern Olympics, it is undeniable that this condition favored the emergence of true heroes. Even today, many of the positive results of Brazilian Olympic sports are due to exceptions and not a result of a national sports policy.
One should not forget that the amateur characteristics of Brazilian sport, richly illustrated by the authors in Chapter 4, are present even today in many Brazilian sports and their federations. For a country that will host the 31st edition of the Olympic games, it seems somewhat grotesque. Perhaps the event itself will serve to boost the development of these events in Brazil. If nothing else has been accomplished...