There was an Australian Sprinter Peter Norman who came second in the 1968 Olympics.

enter image description here

Peter Norman known for his support of John Carlos and Tommie Smith when they made their famous raised-fist gesture at the 1968 Olympics medal ceremony - by wearing the same human rights badge.

He was denied an opportunity to compete in the 1972 Olympics for Australia despite qualifying 13 times.

In August 2012, the federal parliament debated a motion to provide an apology to Norman.The Australian Olympic Committee disputed the claims that Norman had been blacklisted or was excluded from the 1972 Olympics team. Regarding the 2000 Olympics, they said that no other former athletes had been invited to take part and that Norman was offered the same chance to buy tickets as others were. The AOC did not believe that Norman was owed an apology.

My question is: Why did the Australian IOC deny that Peter Norman was excluded from the 1972 Olympics for supporting racial equality?

EDIT 7 May 2018: The AOC has given Peter Norman a posthumous order of merit and admitted their negligence:



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    It's going to be difficult to obtain any first-hand evidence for an action that all first-hand witnesses deny - but perhaps embarrassment would be the correct inference. Oct 11, 2015 at 13:58
  • This could get better answers on skeptics exchange, after all there is going to be a difficult time getting first-hand evidence. Oct 11, 2015 at 22:50
  • Or maybe weaselspeak "we did ban him for making political statements, not because the political statement was in favour of racial equality". Since you did not ask the right question, we are just going to say that it was not the cause
    – SJuan76
    Oct 11, 2015 at 22:51
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    The thing that really impressed me about the guy, aside from what was mentioned here, is that the time he got in that race nearly 50 years ago is still the Australian record. If you know anything about track and field records, that's superhuman. Records just do not last that long. For instance, I think by far the longest held absolute T&F record was Bob Beamon's long jump at those same games, which stood for 23 years. All other things being equal, this guy should be a national hero. He shouldn't have been capable of paying for his own beer in a pub. That this didn't happen speaks volumes
    – T.E.D.
    Oct 12, 2015 at 10:17

3 Answers 3


There appears to be a lot of conflicting statements about Peter Norman. From what I can tell the AOC has always had great respect for him, and consider him one of the greats. It also appears he did not qualify for the 1972 trials, and this was reported at the time. He admitted so himself, as he was suffering a knee injury. The idea that he was deliberately 'left out' of the 2000 Olympics is startling to me - especially considering the multicultural nature of 2000s Sydney and the Games. According to some reports he was involved in the games, and the AOC states: "The AOC was not in a financial position to invite all Olympians to Sydney 2000. They were given special assistance to purchase tickets but it would have cost the AOC hundreds of thousands of dollars to bring Olympians from around the country to Sydney for the Games. The suggestion he was shunned is totally incorrect. He was treated like any other Australian Olympian." http://corporate.olympics.com.au/news/peter-norman-not-shunned-by-aoc


As near as I can tell, the Australian IOC's position was that, since there was no official recorded blacklisting of Peter Norman, there's no proof it ever happened, and they shouldn't have to apologize for something that didn't happen.

There was no punishment dealt out to Peter Norman following the 1968 incident with black power salute. He was not punished. He was not ostracized. He was not blacklisted. He wasn't even reprimanded by the Australian Olympic Committee at the time. ...

We're a little bit baffled by this debate. We never had an issue with Peter Norman. He never had an issue with us.

There was never any suggestion that he was ostracized or not happy with the AOC. We've got nothing to apologize for because we've never wronged Peter Norman.

The assertion that there was "never any suggestion that Norman was not happy with the AOC" appears to be quite false, and much of the rest of the quote is implausible to the point of being humorous (supporting material below the fold line, as its bordering on off-topic, unless you are inclined to believe the humbug quoted above).

So while I don't think its possible to get perfectly into the heads of the AOC, it does appear to be clear that in 2012 they were not yet ready to admit their organization had participated in the ostracization of Peter Norman. Some of this treatment had been quite recent (only 12 years past), and thus at least a few of the perpetrators likely still had positions of power within the AOC.

One important thing to realize is that Australia at the time was living under a set of laws with respect to its own indigenous racial minorities that were rather similar to Jim Crow and Apartheid. (In 1968 it is said that the Australian census counted sheep, but not aborigines). So expressing any kind of support for racial equality in such a public way was not likely to be well-received by the power structure at home.

Not only did Mr. Norman complain of qualifying for the next Olympics 18 times without getting invited, but he said he had a lot of trouble even finding anyone who would hire him (exactly the treatment Carlos and Smith received upon their return to the US). He ended up a gym coach for a while, and finally a butcher. They report that during this time he was invited multiple times to condemn the gesture of his fellow athletes, and consistently refused.

In the 2000 Sydney Olympics, all of Australia's other past medalists were given a "lap of honor". Peter Norman, their greatest sprinter ever, wasn't even invited to attend. The US delegation was so incensed by this that they invited him to join their group.

As a counterpoint to the photo above, I can't resist posting this later picture of the three, from Norman's funeral.

enter image description here Photo: Wayne Taylor

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    One might observe that the Australian Olympic Committee has at times been held in as high public regard in Australia as FIFA in recent times under Sepp Blatter.
    – John Mack
    Oct 14, 2015 at 4:02

Here's a counter from an informed source (I'm not making any value judgement as to accuracy): http://www.trackandfieldnews.com/index.php/display-article?arId=131686

The comment by T.E.D. about the longevity of Peter Norman's Australian record is grossly inaccurate. There are several world records today that have stood longer than Beamon's 23 years - just on the men's side, the 400m hurdles, high jump, long jump, shot, discus and hammer, and many more on the women's. National records often last longer, especially in smaller countries (population-wise) where an outlier like Norman emerges and his records last a long time. The Irish long jump record of Peter O'Connor lasted 89 years (and I'm sure there are many more). So, it's really not "superhuman" to set a national record that lasts 48 years.

Peter Norman's time was remarkable, but it was made at high altitude. World records were set in all the sprints at Mexico City '68 and all of them lasted more than 10 years. There have only been 3 world record holders in the 200m since Tommie Smith in 1968.

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