19 Nov 2020
The actions of Swedish yachtsmen Lars Gunnar Käll and Stig Lennart Käll during the sailing regatta at the Olympic Games Tokyo 1964 meant that the Games have gone down in folklore as being synonymous with fair play.
Competing in the third race of the Flying Dutchmen event, the Käll brothers noticed that their Australian rivals John Dawe and Ian Winter had capsized. Rather than pursuing a strong finishing place, the brothers chose to abandon their medal aspirations and instead rescue the stranded pair, pulling them into their vessel and to safety. After the story was published in the Japanese press, admiration for their actions spread around the world, and the brothers’ residence in the sailing Olympic Village was inundated with gifts from well-wishers.
Their actions meant they became the first recipients of the Fair Play Trophy, an honour awarded by UNESCO’s newly created International Fair Play Committee. As of 2020, there are now four fair play trophies awarded – one to an athlete or team for an act of fair play, another to an individual for their career, and one for an individual or organisation for the promotion of fair play. Award winners have subsequently included such sporting luminaries as Sergey Bubka, Emil Zatopek, Sir Bobby Charlton and Pete Sampras.