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Photo courtesy of ČTK/Alamy

Ice Hockey

by Peter Biľak

After the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia in August of 1968, sport was one of the few public spaces where resistance against the occupation was possible. The World Ice Hockey Championships the following spring saw the Czechoslovak and Soviet teams in the same group, and the Czechoslovak players ‘spoke’ for their countrymen by covering the red stars on their jerseys with black tape and defeating the Soviets both times that they met them. The streets of Czechoslovakia erupted in celebration, and although the USSR eventually won the tournament, the political symbolism of the confrontation was so powerful that it was recalled nearly 30 years later when the Czechs defeated the Russians to take the gold medal at the Winter Olympics in Nagano.

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