The Olympic ideal

Saturday, July 28, 2012    

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The way the story goes, warring states called a truce and soldiers were forced to put away their weapons before, during, and after Olympic Games organised by ancient Greece, every four years, on the plains of Olympus.

The modern Olympic Movement, which started in 1896, can't quite claim the achievement of universal or even regional peace as a result of its much-lauded Games every four years.

Indeed, it has had to suffer the indignity of long breaks because of two World Wars and the embarrassment of opportunistic boycotts on either side of the ideological divide at the height of the Cold War. It also felt the deadly weight of terrorism in 1972, when 11 Israeli athletes were killed in Munich, Germany.

And yet, surely, no other activity by modern humans quite captures the ideal of harmony between nations and peoples, regardless of nationality, colour, religion and ideology, as does the modern Olympic Games.

We believe that were he around today, the founder of the modern Olympic Movement, Frenchman, Mr Pierre de Coubertin would be fairly satisfied.

We suspect he would also be taken aback at how his concept has evolved. He could never have predicted the sheer scope and expanse of the Games as they are today; not least the cost. The London Games, which were officially opened yesterday — amid much cultural flair and fanfare — are now projected to cost US$13 billion or more, according to news reports out of London, which is way beyond original estimates.

No wonder then that many Britons, caught like much of the rest of the world in one of the worst economic slumps of modern times, are wondering if it's all worth it.

From this distance, Jamaicans — focused as we are on the fortunes of our athletes at the very height of our 50th Independence anniversary celebrations — can only hope that the British people will profit, not suffer, as a result of their huge investment.

Jamaica expects that our athletes in London will do their very best and will be the finest ambassadors, even should they not quite approach the dizzying heights of four years ago in Beijing, China when they captured an unprecedented 11 medals including six gold.

For the rest of us watching on television from the comfort of our living rooms, we should give thought not only to the nationalistic glory derived from medals won. We should also contemplate the wonder of human endeavour and the ideal of a future world with healthy competition, but without wars, bitter disharmony, impoverishment, and ignorance.

We wish our athletes well as indeed we do the entire Olympic Movement.





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