Were S. Africa's Olympic teams integrated?

Before the fall of Apartheid, were South Africa’s Olympic teams integrated? I noticed that their rowing team is integrated now, and the question immediately jumped into my mind.

(Yes, I could Google this, but it seems like a neat discussion to have, and I like the answers from Dopers more!)

If that’s an invitation for WAG answers, then I could offer one:

Without my having an actual factual clue as to the answer, I would still say that I can’t even remotely imagine in a million years that the Apartheid-era South Africa Olympic team would have been integrated.

South Africa was banned from the Olympics for something like 30 years because of Apartheid. So there was no team to consider. Prior to that, the team was all white. After that, of course, it was integrated.

Right, South African athletes became English or other nationalities if they wanted to compete.

Yep, Zola Budd raced under the British flag.

You might want to rent Invictus.

Wow, I had no idea the IOC actually banned them from competition! In my defense, Mandela became President of S. Africa when I was in middle school, so I don’t really remember specifics of Apartheid, just what we saw on the evening news here in the US.

The ban was a big deal - 28 countries boycotted the 1976 Olympics in Montrealbecause New Zealand wasn’t banned by the IOC for sending a rugby team to South Africa.

It was not just the Olympics. International athletic foundations from many different sports banned the participation of South African athletes and teams, including the international rugby foundation (as depicted in the film Invictus mentioned above), and FIFA, the organization that runs international football (known as soccer in the U.S.) and the World Cup. The athletic bans went a long way to raising awareness of apartheid throughout the world, and making South Africa a pariah among nations. In addition to the sporting boycott, there were academic and cultural boycotts.

The bans also went a small way towards driving Whites to the negotiation table, I think. South Africans in general looove their sport - not being able to compete in especially international Rugby and Cricket was a surprisingly effective goad, IMO. The FIFA ban, probably not so much, it was much less of a “White” sport.

And yeah, to the OP, nope, they weren’t. We did field a couple of multiracial teams before the bans in cricket, but never athletics AFAIK.

In 1985 I was on trip which included a white South African father and his 2 sons. Another member of the party from Boston was making small-talk and asked one of them if soccer was the national sport. “No, we play rugby!. Well, the blacks play soccer.” He was a little put out when we concluded that the sport favoured by ~80% of the population should really count as the national sport.

Cricket’s way more popular than Rugby nowadays, and was better considered by non-Whites even when I was growing up under Apartheid. Rugby, for all its English origins, was seen as the game of the Afrikaner oppressors, whereas Cricket was a) seen as a game of the more liberal English whites; and b) also had a big following amongst the Indian and Coloured communities. I played soccer and cricket (and volleyball) at school, not rugby.

As an aside, I had always wondered if black singers were played on the radio in RSA during Apartheid. My question was quickly answered, when I arrived in South Africa, the first song I heard on Radio Highveldt in 1976 was “Mahogany” by Diana Ross.

Recent article on the South Africa ban. It is pretty interesting.

Two black runners competed in the marathon at the 1904 St Louis Olympics; they were from the Orange River Colony, which was one of the predecessors of South Africa. They weren’t exactly “sent” to the Olympics as they were apparently already there as part of the World’s Fair. Bizarrely, one of them was “chased nearly a mile off course by aggressive dogs”.

After that, as far as I can tell, South Africa’s olympic teams were all-white until the ban.

Don’t feel bad. Until a cultural boycottbegan in the mid-80s, many Americans didn’t really know what was going on. I suppose most had heard about it, but didn’t understand what Apartheid was or the level of international effort to end it. Those who did may have predominantly believed it would not end without a bloodbath. Just four years ago a sitting governor of the largest US state, also candidate for Vice President of the United States, thought South Africa was part of the country of Africa.

I highly recommend the new documentary Under African Skies, about Paul Simon’s recording of the Graceland album partly in South Africa despite the cultural boycott, and his later return after Mandela’s election. A great movie, with some fascinating insights into Apartheid and the international response.