From the August 1980 issue of the Socialist Standard
Nearly all the sports practised nowadays are competitive. You play to win, and the game has little meaning unless you do your utmost to win . . . At the international level sport is frankly mimic warfare. But the significant thing is not the behaviour of the players but the attitude of the spectators: and, behind the spectators of the nations who work themselves into furies over these absurd contests and seriously believe—at any rate for short periods—that running, jumping and kicking a bill are tests of national virtue.
This short quote from Orwell really should have been tagged onto the end of Paul Bennett's article, 'The Olympics: sport as warfare', but I missed it at the time. I'm now making amends.
The quote itself is from Orwell's 1945 essay, 'The Sporting Spirit'.