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The Olympics thrill the world with spectacle and drama. They also carry a cultural and social significance that goes beyond the stadium, athletes and fans. The Games are arenas in which individual and team athletic achievement intersect with the politics of national identity in a global context. The Olympics at the Millennium offers essays that explore the cultural politics of the Games. The contributors investigate such topics as the emergence of women athletes as cultural commodities, the orchestrated spectacles of the opening and closing ceremonies, and the alternative sport culture offered via the Gay Games. Unforgettable events and decisions are discussed: Native American athlete Jim Thore winning - and losing - his two gold medals in 1912; why America was one of the few countries to actually send Jewish athletes to the Nazi Olympics ; the disqualification of champion Ewa Klobukowska from competing as a woman, due to chromosomal testing in 1967. Written with the 2000 Sydney Games in mind, several essays address concerns with which every host country must contend, such as the threat of terrorism. Highlighting the difficult issues of racism and nationalism, ather article explores the efforts of Australia's aboriginal people to define a role for themselves in the 2000 Games, as they struggle with ongoing discrimination. And with the world watching, Sydney faces profound pressure to implement a successful Olympics as a matter of national pride.
KAY SCHAFFER is an associate professor in the department of Social Inquiry at the University of Adelaide, Australia. She is the author of several books, including Women and the Bush. SIDONIE SMITH is professor of English and director of Women's Studies at The University of Michigan. She has written many books, including Women on the Move: Twentieth Century Travel Narratives and Technologies of Motion. Both Schaffer and Smith co-edited (along with Jennifer Sabbioni) Indigenous Australian Voices: A Reader (Rutgers University Press)