Red Games

Between the two World Wars the 'official' Olympic Games had a potent rival - a vibrant European socialist sports movement that criticised them as being too commercial, too elitist, too nationalistic, and too closely linked to the political right.

Sport, the workers' movement argued, should be an agent of peace and international understanding. It should also be about participating, not spectating. And when fascism, first in Italy then in Hitler's Germany, started to use sport in the interests of the state, Workers' Olympiads were organised as an alternative and a protest. That put on in 'Red Vienna' in 1931 attracted over 70,000 athletes and 250,000 spectators.

As the Athens Games get under way, and using recorded testimony from people involved, this programme tells the story of another, forgotten, 'Olympic' movement.

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Between the two World Wars the 'official' Olympic Games had a potent rival - a vibrant European socialist sports movement that criticised them as being too commercial, too elitist, too nationalistic, and too closely linked to the political right.

Sport, the workers' movement argued, should be an agent of peace and international understanding. It should also be about participating, not spectating. And when fascism, first in Italy then in Hitler's Germany, started to use sport in the interests of the state, Workers' Olympiads were organised as an alternative and a protest. That put on in 'Red Vienna' in 1931 attracted over 70,000 athletes and 250,000 spectators.

As the Athens Games get under way, and using recorded testimony from people involved, this programme tells the story of another, forgotten, 'Olympic' movement.