As was the case with visual art, literature, and the media, sport in the Soviet Union was a matter of ideological significance. In the 1930s, Joseph Stalin used sport as a means of constructing the new socialist man (homo Sovieticus), with regular sporting events taking place in Soviet cities and rural areas, and athletic performances being incorporated into the military parades on Red Square in Moscow. Sport, and physical culture in general, was used as a means to mobilize masses, and, together with aviation, it formed the bedrock of Soviet mythology and symbology. Despite this, the Soviet Union did not participate in the Olympic Games until 1952 in Helsinki, Finland.
   Under Nikita Khrushchev, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) rapidly emerged as an athletic superpower. During the Cold War the ideological battles between the United States and the USSR also took place on the field. In protest to the Soviet-Afghan War, the U.S. boycotted the 1980 Summer Olympic Games in Moscow; the Soviet Union and much of the Eastern Bloc reciprocated by not attending the 1984 Los Angeles Games. In a different vein, the chess tournaments between Anatoly Karpov and Viktor Kortchnoi were viewed as a battle between two systems, with the former representing the socialist world and the latter being an émigré from the USSR who had settled in the West. In the Soviet Union, athletes could earn sport titles that, to some extent, were similar to ranks used in the military forces or in academia.
   Deideologization of sport in the late 1980s was part of Mikhail Gorbachev’s perestroika initiative. Consequently, sport lost its preeminent ideological status and was marginalized in the public arena as political and economic debates commenced in the press and on television. In the 1990s, plummeting state support resulted in the deterioration of sporting facilities and mass exodus of athletes from the Russian Federation. At the same time, new athletic activities, such as weight lifting and jogging, were introduced into the country. Many sporting facilities were privatized, often being transformed into health spas and exclusive clubs. Despite the withering of state subsidies for international competition, Russia remains one of the world’s leading sporting nations (Russia has never finished below third place in the Olympic Games). Russia remains particularly strong in such sports as ice hockey, gymnastics, figure skating, orienteering, wrestling, chess, tennis, and swimming. Russia’s achievements on the world stage have not translated into the popularity of sport among Russian citizens. Few people exercise regularly, leading to health problems.
   In the 1990s, as a result of the commercialization of Russian economy and cultural life, professional—that is, commercial—sport emerged as a reality. Newly established professional sporting associations began searching for funds outside the realm of the Ministry of Sport, Tourism, and Youth Culture. Recently, Russian oligarchs have begun funding the national and international sport scene. Dmitry Medvyedev included development of sport facilities and sport associations in one of his federal programs, aimed at the modernization of Russian society. In 2014, Russia will hold the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, an event that is meant to boost Russia’s national image and improve sporting facilities in the south of the country. Sport-Express is one of Russia’s most popular newspapers, covering sporting news around the world, while the television channel Sport (established in 2003 under the auspices of the state radio and television broadcasting company) is the primary source for live sporting news.
   See also Kasparov, Garry.

Historical Dictionary of the Russian Federation. . 2010.


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  • sport — spòrt s.m.inv., agg.inv. FO 1a. s.m.inv., attività fisica volta a mantenere in efficienza il corpo: fare, praticare dello sport 1b. s.m.inv., ciascuna delle discipline sportive (e l insieme degli esercizi atletici e delle gare che le… …   Dizionario italiano

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  • sport — /spɔrt, ingl. spɔːt/ [vc. ingl., in origine «divertimento», dall ant. fr. desport] s. m. inv. 1. CFR. diporto, giochi, esercizi fisici, gara, competizione, incontro, spettacolo 2. (est.) divertimento, passatempo, svago, spasso, ricreazione,… …   Sinonimi e Contrari. Terza edizione

  • Sport — Sm std. (19. Jh.) Entlehnung. Entlehnt aus ne. sport. Dort gekürzt aus disport Vergnügen , das entlehnt ist aus mfrz. desporter. Dieses wiederum ist umgebildet aus ml. deportare sich betragen, sich vergnügen , das zu l. portāre tragen gebildet… …   Etymologisches Wörterbuch der deutschen sprache

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