Turning the Country into an "immense and Clamorous Stadium": Perón, the New Argentina, and the 1951 Pan-American Games

Raanan Rein*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

During the Peronist regime (1946-1955), the Argentine government encouraged and financed a wide variety of sports activities. This investment bore fruit internationally and Juan Perón tried to make political capital out of the achievements of Argentine individual athletes or national teams in international competitions. Such achievements were presented as a collective victory of Argentine society, transcending the divisions of social class, ethnic origins, place of residence, or political affiliation. Argentine participation in the London Olympics in 1948, the hosting of the world basketball championship in Buenos Aires in 1950, and above all the organization of the first Pan-American games in the Argentine in March 1951, all, served to promote patriotism and national unity at home and improve the country's image in the international scene. This paper focuses on an analysis of a 250-page book published by the sports magazine Mundo Deportivo, sponsored by the Peronist government, on the eve of the games. Both the text and the images attest to its populist character, its quest for modernity, emphasis on social mobility, and an authoritarian way of imposing national unity. The initiative to hold such games in Argentina dated back to 1940 but it had to be postponed twice: first to 1948 because of the Second World War, and then to 1951 because of the London Olympic Games. Perón's government wanted these games to serve as a proof of the regime's success. To that end, the president urged the organizers to 'spur no effort', promising them any financial assistance they might need. A year and a half before the inaugural ceremony, held at the Racing stadium (officially named the President Perón Stadium), the organizational effort moved into high gear, and Perón supervized it personally. Argentina was indeed the big winner in this event, its athletes capturing a total of 153 medals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-43
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of the History of Sport
Volume33
Issue number1-2
DOIs
StatePublished - 22 Jan 2016

Keywords

  • Argentina
  • Juan Peron
  • Mundo Deportivo
  • Pan-American Games
  • Peronism

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