Olympics: where universal brotherhood, patriotism and individual achievement merge
“The Olympic Games are where universal brotherhood, fierce patriotism and individual achievement merge creating the perfect microcosm of the world”
The modern Olympic Games, where most of the countries of the world now meet every two years, used to be every four years, are a microcosm of the world. It brings out the best in us: the athletes, the spectators and the countries of the world … who truly become participants in the ‘biggest’ event. We all put our differences aside as we participate in this incredible global event, while at the same time displaying our deepest patriotic feelings and our best personal efforts as athletes.
When Sean White shows off his latest boarding stunt in Torino or Vancouver, the youth of the world are mesmerized. When an unknown luger from Georgia, Nodar (Kumaritashvili), with a last name that hardly anyone can pronounce, dies in training the afternoon before the opening ceremonies of the Vancouver Olympics, everyone, especially the entire Olympic athletic community , is in mourning. Or when Canadian Joannie Rochette loses her mother at the Olympics two days before her event due to a massive heart attack, the whole world gasps. Joannie decided to continue skating in honor of her mother, who was her biggest fan. She skated to her personal best and didn’t break her playing face until her phase one short skating bronze performance was completed, after which everyone cried with her. She eventually took home the bronze medal, ending her performance with a kiss as her eyes shot up to the skies to a chorus of applause.
In 2003, before the Beijing Olympics, when Kim Collins achieved an impressive victory in the 100 meters at the World Championships, most people had no idea which country the letters SKN represented. Collins, from the Caribbean nation of St. Kitts and Nevis, said his victory was “the biggest thing” that has happened since his country, with a population of less than 40,000, gained independence in 1983.
The Olympics are the only place where you don’t have to be from a rich or powerful country, a wealthy family, or a great or well-known nation to be treated equally and have the same chances of winning. And for many, like Collins, his achievements add to the national identity of their country and help put it on the map for tourism or others help the world see the softer side of a superpower as when American Dan Jansen se fell after dedicating his skating to his sport. Sister Jane, who died of cancer earlier in the day, only to end up falling and collapsing in tears. Dan won that gold six years later and took his victory lap holding his one-year-old daughter named Jane … for his sister.
As Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd noted: “When the world looks at Australia, much of its image of Australia is determined by what our athletes have done in the field of sport, including Olympic sports” and what the world saw. . of our country as the Australian hosted the Olympics.
When Tanzanian marathoner John Stephen Akhwari dragged his injured leg to finish last with a time of four hours 30 minutes in the 1968 Mexico City Games marathon race, he received warm applause and cheers from a waiting crowd. to end. . “My country did not send me to Mexico City to start the race. They sent me to finish,” said Akhwari, then 30. Despite finishing last, Akhwari became one of the most memorable figures in Olympic history and was honored as a national hero. for his country in 1983.
National pride is ingrained in every athlete and in every game or event, but so is compassion for fellow athletes around the world. Over the years, the world witnessed how Japanese volleyball fans roared in favor of their national team and how Italians mourned the defeat of their soccer team at home. We’ve seen the Canadian powerhouse in soccer defeated by an American long-throw team and the favorite defeated by less skilled athletes, even from their own team.
And as Olympic training, in a shrinking world, has changed and overlapped more and more, we see true friendships and happiness for fellow athletes who are friends and competitors, such as between Canadian gold and silver medalists and Americans in ice dance, respectively, sharing coaches and practicing ice. And again, as now coach Brian Orser, who has always eluded gold as a skater, saw Kim Yu-Na become the reigning queen when she took gold as the first South Korean to win a figure skating medal.
At times it has been the host countries that have starred in both history and athletes. There was Hitler’s Olympics (summer and winter 1936) that allowed a madman to use them for propaganda. And then, in 1972, Germany had a chance to redeem itself with the Munich Olympics, where Jewish-American Mark Spitz took home an unprecedented seven gold medals, but his achievements were ironically overshadowed by the massacre of eleven Israeli athletes. by a militant Palestinian group. There were the war years (summer 1916, summer and winter 1940, and summer and winter 1944) that resulted in the total cancellation of the games and the 1980 Moscow Olympics that were boycotted by the United States and affiliated countries, including Japan, West Germany and China. , The Philippines, and Canada, which later caused the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Games boycott by Moscow and its allies, 14 Eastern Bloc countries and allies, including the Soviet Union, Cuba, and East Germany (but not Romania). And there were the continuing doping and drug scandals of Eastern Bloc athletes under their influence by the Soviet Union. And more recently there were pre-complaints to Beijing about human and animal rights violations. But the Olympic flame apparently ignited the Chinese people’s love for their homeland and a crowd of them took to the streets after overseas attempts to disrupt, or even sabotage, the Olympic torch relay from the very beginning, moreover, during For at least 17 days, the Chinese government was aware of and publicly abstained from many of its anti-human and animal rights practices. In the end, the community of nations and the peoples of the world rose above the shadows.
And remember the opening of the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City? A tattered American flag recovered from the smoking ruins of the World Trade Center was displayed when President George W. Bush declared that the Games had been opened in the name of a “proud, determined and grateful nation.” The heart of the world was with them. It was America’s message to the world: Americans love their country while they remained in the shadows of the 9/11 tragedy, and the world must stand together to promote common ideals and the hope of peace.
However, in the end are the names and performances of athletes such as: Sarah Hughes, Franz Klammer, Dick Button, Jean-Claude Killy, Bonnie Blair, Bjorn Dahlie, Nadia Comaneci, Usain Bolt, Eric Heiden, Hermann Meir, Peggy Flemming, Steven Bradley, Carl Lewis, Dorothy Hamel, Jesse Owens, Scott Hamilton, America’s Miracle on Ice Hockey Team and the list goes on and on that they make the games and add to the living spirit of the Olympics. Although Michael Phelps is generally considered the best Olympian, it would be difficult to compile a list of the best. There are so many factors. And it is impossible to compare the athletes of the first Games with the professionals of the modern era.
Times of true crisis bring out the best in all of us, the people of the world, but the Olympics are the only event that, at least once every two years, brings out the best in humanity without a crisis. There is a great story of the airport and the city of Gander in Newfoundland that allowed nearly 200 incoming US flights to land at its airport, after airspace was closed over the United States for the first time in its history just hours after 9/11. September. But the 4 days that followed and the incredible hospitality of the Gander people is the true story, and it is that essence that emerges without the crisis, through the Olympics.
It takes much more than patriotism and ambition to host successful Games. It is important to show full respect to all athletes, to shining stars like Michael Phelps and Anton Apolo Ohno or those who purely persevere like Akhwari or the Cool Running Team of Jamaica, as well as to the countries and cultures of the world from which they come. , to the spectators who come to embrace the games, to the Olympic spirit itself, and to everyone who has competed before. There is a fine line between love of country, personal ambition and, for at least 17 days every two years, world unity. Yet sitting together as a family and watching the Olympics with your children can be one of the best shared experiences a family can have, including lessons and inspiration without a direct word being said.
The Olympics are the pinnacle of true global understanding and the embodiment of outreach for a better world, as opposed to global coalitions, contractual leagues of nations, and the conversation about world orders crafted and planned by selfish and scheming politicians and businessmen. . Hopefully we all remember that and follow the light of the Olympic torch and true unity rather than the darkness of the idle talk of dividers and conquerors.