In 1945 George Orwell wrote that serious sport was 'war minus the shooting'. He argued that sport was not a means of promoting peace between nations but was more likely to cause tensions than solve them.

Three years after Orwell’s article was published, Britain hosted the Olympic Games in London. The 1948 'Austerity Olympics' took place in a world still recovering from the Second World War. Neither Germany nor Japan was invited to participate. The Soviet Union was invited but chose not to send competitors. Despite these problems, the Games were a huge success and free from controversy or ill-feeling among the competing nations.

Other Olympic Games have not been so peaceful. In 1936 Germany's Nazi government used the Berlin Olympics to promote their regime. During the 1972 Munich Olympics, 11 Israeli athletes and coaches were killed by a Palestinian terrorist group. Past Games have also been marred by boycotts.



Officers of HMS KENT enjoying a free for all game of deck hockey under the shadow of the cruiser's 8 inch guns. Whenever possible the game is played for exercise each afternoon both at sea and in port.

In 1999 the Olympic Truce Foundation was set up to promote international peacemaking efforts, reviving a tradition from ancient Greece in which wars were suspended during the Games.

In war-torn countries, sport can sometimes bring people together and help build lasting peace. In 2002 a football match held in Afghanistan’s national stadium - used by the Taliban regime for executions - was a positive symbol of change.

During the two world wars, many great athletes, sportsmen and women were killed or injured, either through serving in the armed forces or as civilian casualties. These conflicts also caused serious disruption to professional sporting organisations in Britain and throughout the world. However, sport still remained a vital form of recreation and entertainment for both civilians and service personnel.

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