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Olympics: an overview

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Luke, Online English teacher at Acadsoc.

Luke, Online English teacher at Acadsoc.

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Every four years, the world looks forward to international sports events that pin the best individuals and teams from each country to assert their dominance in their respective sporting codes. As of this year (2018), the world is looking forward to the Soccer World Cup that is being held in Russia from the 14th of June to the 15th of July. This glorious occasion sees people from different parts of the world converging in one country – not only to learn from the natives of that country but to learn from one another and build life-long relationships. As the world focuses on the looming world -cup of the most popular sport in the universe, there is another sporting event that is underway, a game that is considered the niche sports event: The Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang. Olympic Games nowadays are not merely about sports, but for new technology to surprise the world every four years.

This love-child of ice and athletics brings the likes of snowboarders, ice-skaters, skiers and much more instead ‘unpopular’ sports such as curling. So even though the Winter Olympics do not get the same publicity as its parent sporting event (the official Olympics), it never fails to gather sold-out venues as fanatics travel far and wide to see the best of the best in action.

Sport is continuously diversifying and innovating itself and cementing its footprint even in the most remote of locations such as Fiji and Samoa. The Olympics can be credited with the marketing of many nations through the performances unfamiliar places such as Jamaica – which produced arguably the most notable of athletes in history: Usain Bolt.

 anicent-olympics-gamesThe history of the Olympics can be traced all the way back to the ancient Greek times. When Athens was the superpower of the world and the sacred place of the gods. Men were born and bred to be gladiators to mirror their image. A city name Olympia was the sacred ground for athletes, and they gathered every four years to compete and exhibit their athletic capabilities.

Held in honour of the father of the ancient Greek gods, Zeus, the Ancient Olympics were first recorded in 776 BC and were celebrated for more than 1,000 years, until the Emperor of Byzantium Theodosius I suppressed the Games in favour of the new Christian religion that would become the official state religion.[1]Fast-forward to today, our knowledge of the Olympics only goes as far back as twenty years (that is if you have been lucky enough to witness these glorious events for that long).

In the beginning, the events that existed included those that are the staple in the current Olympics such as; running, jumping, discus throw, wrestling, and boxing. However, some sports were completely relevant to the time such as equestrian events which included horse-racing and chariots, pankration – which was a martial arts combination of both wrestling and boxing.[2]

With the Olympics being such a prestigious event, we can see the adoption of international sports such as archery, karate, swimming, gymnastics, javelin- throw and diving. It is important to note that these sports are conducted with each individual sporting specific colours that are prevalent in their country. This is one of the most notable developments as in ancient Greece, athletes were men, and they performed naked.

The Olympics can be touted as being an event that promotes love, solidarity, peace, and fairness. But there exists a dark side to the Olympics where some critics accuse the game of not promoting fair-play. This is a result of so many athletes who have been found guilty of taking performance enhancers and banned substances – and as a result, overshadowing the athletes who should indeed be the winners on the day.

Outside of the internal issues within the events themselves, some other external issues may or may not be at all fair when we look into the dark side of the Olympics. These include:

  1. Crime – this is an ongoing concern for any planners involved in international events. The rise of drug-use, human trafficking, burglary and airport syndicates always carry a cloud above the events’ heads. For the Olympics, it is not only the spectators who may be in danger but, the athletes themselves.
  2. Racial Prejudice – as we have seen in many sporting events, the existence of racial slurs and booing athletes based on their nationality, race, and ethnicity, kills the spirit of peace and fair-play. At certain times, these prejudices can result in violent attacks between people of different and conflicting ideologies.

With this stated, there exists a need for stakeholders to try and control the outcome and deploy more resources to deal with such issues. However, it is vital to note that the Olympics’ success speaks for itself as it always concludes with everyone having a smile on their face, well, all those who are on the podium.

Additionally, the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich featured an act of horror, unlike anything we’ve ever experienced at the Olympic Games. On September 5, a Palestinian terrorist group called “Black September” raided the apartment of Israeli athletes in Olympic Village. They killed two athletes and took another nine individuals hostage. In the end, all nine Israeli hostages were killed, as well as five terrorists and one West German police officer.[3]

In any event, there exists the ‘rise of the underdog’, the ‘dominance of the gifted’ and of course, ‘the unexpected surprise’. Some of the most notable moments in Olympic history are not all stories of success, but also moments of embarrassment and shame.

Women were never allowed to compete in the Olympics until the Paris Games in 1900 when their participation in lawn tennis and golf events secured a position for female athletes in future Games. The London 2012 Olympics signified a new gender milestone with the debut of Women’s Boxing, and it was the first Games in Olympic history with female athletes from every competing country.[4]

 Oscar PistoriusIn 2012, Oscar Pistorius, an amputee athlete becomes the first Paralympian to participate in the Olympics’ 400m race. This was not about him winning, although it would have been beautiful, it was the inspiration that the athlete stood for.

One of the most beautiful events, just weeks ago, was when the Korean athletes entered the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang under one unified flag. The flag was white, promoting peace and Korea as a whole, was in blue, symbolising life and prosperity. This symbol of unity shook positive ways across the whole world, and it brought hope.

As technology seeks to make the world smaller, the access to events such as Olympics means that more people can be inspired, motivated, not only to be great supporters but representatives of their countries. The Olympics may consider adding events such as gaming and coding, to further unify the people of different interests and welcome the future through technological sports such as these. It is unknown how long this may take, but the organisation is always working tirelessly to include sporting events from all over the world such as basketball, 7s rugby, and netball.

One sport that the Olympics may very well include in the future may be the ‘Spelling-bee” which tests the vocabulary capability of young children. Introducing such an event may prove to take the world in the right direction regarding education as so many children watch the Olympics already. Companies like Acadsoc are well-equipped to prepare participants should the organisation choose to make this inclusion. The future is uncertain, this we know – but it is essential to be positive as the role of sports in society.

 

The colours of the Olympic flag, symbolise unity and togetherness throughout the world, and just like education, the Olympics are an opportunity for the world to get together, to share ideas, test one another and to learn from one another. The spirit of the Olympics differs for everyone, be it participant, spectator, or organiser. What it means to you is your prerogative, and it’s important to use the message that the Olympics stand for and be the best that you can be, in whatever you may be doing.

 

[1] http://greece.greekreporter.com/2012/07/01/the-history-and-origins-of-the-olympic-games/

[2] https://www.olympic.org/ancient-olympic-games/the-sports-events

[3]https://www.cheatsheet.com/sports/worst-things-ever-happened-olympics.html/?a=viewall

[4] https://www.rd.com/culture/13-olympic-moments-that-changed-history/

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