Scholars who have examined the role of the Olympic Games in U.S. Cold War strategy have dealt mostly with the post-Stalin era, when the Olympic Games were a stage for “symbolic combat” between athletes from the East and West and a cultural force with a powerful and compelling message that could be used for political gain. The Games were overseen by the International Olympic Committee, which both influenced and was influenced by the actions of world leaders and states. Although U.S. officials generally refused to approve federal funds for the national Olympic team, they took steps to manipulate the Games for propaganda purposes. The Cold War origins of such activities have not yet been clearly delineated. This article shows that Harry Truman's administration in the late 1940s and early 1950s was the first to address and to take advantage of the propaganda potential of the Olympics in the Cold War era, and this transformative period coincided with, and was driven by, the government's much expanded information offensive, the “Campaign of Truth.”

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