Under the National Party (NP) government sport had been governed by apartheid laws since 1948.
Towards the end of the seventies the NP introduced the idea of sports autonomy as their policy going into
the 1980s. This was based on the fact that government wanted to withdraw from the development and
management of sport in the country. Growing resistance from the opposition, anti-apartheid movements,
sports people in South Africa, as well as from the conservative elements within the NP against apartheid
in sport, continued to work against government principles. The overwhelming anti-apartheid idea that
apartheid in sport was no longer the ultimate goal, but the abolishment of apartheid legislation in
general emphasised the pressure on the South African government during the decade under discussion.
Various small amendments to the sports policy did not bring much relief, as the struggle against
apartheid and apartheid in sport intensified. Government’s frequent reassurance that sports autonomy
removed government from the management sphere of sport in the country did not reach base, as various
racially inclined laws and acts still ensured that governments had to intervene in sport and the practice
thereof from time to time. This culminated in talks between the African National Congress (ANC) and,
amongst others, a group of South African sports people, with a view to counteracting the NP’s sports
policy and paved the way for more talks towards dismantling apartheid in sport and the normalisation
of sporting ties in South Africa and internationally.