Return to Eden

November 14, 1991

The South African cricket team emerged from 21 years banishment Sunday to challenge India before some 75,000 rabid Indian fans at the beautifully green Eden Garden in teeming Calcutta and millions more on Indian television.

Not only the Commonwealth of Nations but also the International Olympics Committee have lifted their bans on South Africa in international sport. The acceptance of South Africa in the world of sport is a proper testament to the good faith of the government of F. W. de Klerk in dismantling apartheid and negotiating toward a new and equitable regime, though that regime will not be in place this year or next.

A multi-racial National Olympic Committee of South Africa announced it is sending a team to the Games next summer in Barcelona, for the first South African Olympic appearance since 1960, under a new flag of its own invention. The government education minister objected to its spurning the official national flag, but no one will dare oppose sending a multi-racial team.

Even the African National Congress, which urges maintenance of economic sanctions against its country while its leaders negotiate a new constitution with the de Klerk government, favors the end of sporting sanctions. This is a boon for South Africa's world-class athletes of all races. They were the ones who paid the high price of other people's moral gestures in terms of their own careers.

Whatever is right in the arenas of investment and politics, on the field of sports, the only right attitude is: Don't boycott the South Africans; beat them (if you can). Otherwise, it isn't sport.

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