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Sports as Third World Nationalism

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The Games of the New Emerging Forces and Indonesia’s Systemic Challenge under Sukarno

image of Journal of American-East Asian Relations

Indonesian President Sukarno established the Games of the New Emerging Forces (GANEFO) not only as an alternative to the Olympic Games in the 1960s, but also as part of a systemic challenge to the international status quo. They occurred twice, once in Indonesia in 1963 and again (as “Asian GANEFO”) in Cambodia in 1966. The GANEFO drew on Asian left-nationalism and neutralism and foreshadowed a possible alternative United Nations that Sukarno planned to call the Conference of the New Emerging Forces (CONEFO), with membership from the People’s Republic of China and other Asian states. This research note explores the link between sports, Indonesian nationalism and neutralism, ideas of Indonesian martial masculinity, and global politics during the 1960s in East Asia. Contrary to the ideal of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to keep sports and politics separate, it suggests that both the IOC and Sukarno’s Indonesia mixed sports and politics, but in very different ways.

Affiliations: 1: Bishop’s University,


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