G’Day World #333 – Matt Norman, Director/Producer “Salute”

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My guest today is Matt Norman.

Matt Norman

Matt is an Aussie actor/director/producer who has a new documentary coming out called “Salute The Movie” (watch the trailer here). It tells the story of his uncle Peter Norman. Now, if you’re like me, you probably haven’t heard the name before but you probably do recognize this photo:

Black Power Salute

Peter Norman is the white guy. He was an Aussie Olympian who won the Silver Medal in the Men’s 200 metre race at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico. The two athletes with him on the podium were Tommie Smith and John Carlos. They both raised their fists in the “Black Power” salute. Peter gave his support by wearing the OPHR (Olympic Project for Human Rights) badge.

All three were booed when they left the podium and then ostracized in their respective countries for having the audacity to use this opportunity to make a political statement. All three were punished severely by their respective Olympic organizations and in Peter’s case, he was not picked for the ’72 Olympics, even though he came third in the trials.

This story is, of course, extremely relevant today, when Australian and American Olympic athletes are again being gagged by their respective organizations with respect to using the Olympics as an opportunity to speak out about China’s human rights abuses in Tibet and Darfur. Will any of them athletes have the balls to speak out? Or will they allow themselves to be gagged?

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14 thoughts on “G’Day World #333 – Matt Norman, Director/Producer “Salute”

  1. Wow, what a great interview. Surprised no-one else has commented, but that had it all: history, politics, sport, a dash of controversy, insights into the Oz film industry. Loved it! Make lots more films Matt . . .

  2. I haven’t had a chance to listen to the interview yet, but it looks like a good one. Also looks like an interesting movie.

    However, Aussies haven’t been gagged with respect to speaking about the political situation around the 2008 Olympics. I’ve seen several speak out about their thoughts, including in a full debate of the situation on ABC television just the other week.

  3. @Richard, I’ve seen some “Olympians” speaking out and you’d be forgiven for thinking they were current Olympians but, in all the cases I’ve seen, they haven’t been. Saw one young lass the other day, promoting a t-shirt that the FreeTibert people would like athletes to wear during the games. Anyway, long story short, they were calling her an Olympian and she was very young, so you assume she’s a current Olympian but, no, she just went to Athens, IIRC, and is noe retired. So just because some people speaking out call themselves Olympians, it doesn’t make them current. The team IS banned from speaking out when in China itself. That is iron-clad.

  4. @Rob Marayke Jonkers is very vocal, and a current Australian Paralympic Swimmer.

    I’ve also heard Eamon Sullivan say he has opinions, but “chooses” not to voice them for his own reasons.

    Also, this is from AOC media director Mike Tancred, “Our athletes in Beijing will be entitled to speak on any issue, including human rights.”

  5. Yeah “entitled”… and if they do speak out, they’ll also be “entitled” to be dropped from all future teams, they’ll be “entitled” to be ignored and ostracized by the AOC.

    I’m just sayin’. A press release can sound all nice and friendly but the reality is often something else.

  6. Just so you are all aware, Matt Norman made a great point in an interview i’ve just heard.. The athletes are being gagged by the AOC as they have signed what he called a section 51 which states “Athletes may speak about Political issues but if they do so will not be entitled to any financial gain through winnings from Gold, Silver or Bronze medals”. They are also entitled to speak their mind but not AT the Olympics and not AT the Olympic Village. They are also NOT allowed to wear any type of free tibet t-shirt or carry any banner which has any political affiliation. The facts are very clear. To protest in China you will never be a part of the Olympic team again and your views of civil and human rights issues will not be tolerated unless you do or say something about it outside the country.

  7. Jason, thanks for clarifying that! I found this site which contains the clause in question. Basically any athlete that does speak out or even wear a badge signifying a political protest can be kicked out by the IOC. What an appalling state of affairs. The Olympics brings athletes from the world together but then gags them.

  8. I just came home from seeing this film – I was sixteen when this happened, and not very politically aware – my brother was serving in Vietnam at the time and that was all I really knew about.
    I am ashamed of my lack of understanding of what Black Power was about at that time.

    Thank you Matt Norman for telling us about your wonderful uncle, Peter (I heard you on Perth radio a few weeks ago, and that is why I went to the film), and these other men, Tommy Smith and John Carlos.

    Shame on Sydney Olympic Committee for not including Peter Norman in the opening ceremony, shame on the Australian Olympic Committee for excluding Peter Norman from the ’72 Munich Olympics.

  9. I’ve just seen the film on DVD in NZ. This is an amazing story which I would tell anyone to watch, and Im not into sport, so that says a lot. Norman was a brave man who made an enormous personal sacrifice, along with the two black Americans, Carlos and Smith. Everyone in Australasia, let alone Australia should know this story, and it appalls me that to now I have been completely ignorant. Australian sports officials and Olympic officials and a long complicit media are responsible for some terrible injustices.

  10. I absolutely love this interview. I was in Vancouver during the Winter Olympics and this film was playing at the cinema there. At the end of the movie, Matt Norman was put up on the cinema screen LIVE on Skype from his home in Australia. he took questions from the audience and made mention of his thoughts regarding the Olympic movement in general.

    My question is, why isn’t this man the prime minister of Australia yet? What an incredible speaker. He treated the packed out theater like they were sitting in his lounge room talking about injustice. I was so inspired by how passionate Matt was and how well versed at the Worlds injustices.

    I bought this film recently when I was back in Australia because it STILL HASNT BEEN RELEASED in Nth America yet. For those that want to feel proud of an Auzzie hero then watch this man’s film with pride. His uncle stood up and now his nephew is doing his memory proud.

    I have rambled. I just came across your site again and had to listen to him speak. Thanks for keeping it up on your site. A great interview.

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