This article examines some fundamental aspects of the history of Soviet sport, be-ginning with the late Tsarist era, and analyzes how the sporting movement developed in the USSR. The article deals with the evolution of the Soviet government’s approach to sports in the years of the NEP and explains the meaning of the great gymnastic pa-rades of the Stalin era, which intended to imitate the model of right-wing totalitarianism in Europe. It then examines the proletarian sporting events dedicated to Spartacus ("Spartakiads"), as well as the rising patriotism of the 1930s, which resulted in the crea-tion the GTO gymnastic patent. Finally, it focuses on the turning point of the 1950s, which led to the debut of the USSR in international competitive competitions - an ex-perience that would prove successful. The article takes into consideration some key sport figures, as well as cultural symbols and icons that were able to permeate collec-tive imagination. The endpoint of this analysis is the year 1956, which represented an authentic historical watershed. Conclusions, however, summarize also some of the trends that characterized Soviet sport in the following decades.
Keywords: Soviet sport, Cold War, Olympic games, destalinization, sport stars, sport iconogra-phy