On 6 July 2005, the International Olympic Committee awarded the 2012 summer Olympic Games to the city of London, opening a new chapter in Great Britain’s rich Olympic history. Despite the prospect of hosting the summer Games for the third time since Pierre de Coubertin’s 1894 revival of the Olympic movement, the historical roots of British Olympism have received limited scholarly attention. With the conclusion of the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the passing of the baton to London, Rule Britannia remedies that oversight.
This book uncovers Britain’s early Olympic involvement, revealing how the British public, media, and leading governmental officials were strongly opposed to international Olympic competition. It explores how the British Olympic Association focused on three main factors in the midst of widespread national opposition: it embraced early Olympian spectacles as a platform for maintaining a sporting union with Ireland, it fostered a greater sense of imperial identity with Britain’s white dominions, and it undertook an ambitious policy of athletic specialization designed to reverse the nation’s waning fortunes in international sport.
This book was previously published as a special issue of International Journal of the History of Sport.