To What Extent Are the Olympic Games More Than an Athletic Competition?

Posted by DipNote Bloggers
August 8, 2008
2008 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony

August 8, 2008 marked the opening of the 2008 Summer Olympic Games, officially known as the Games of the XXIX Olympiad, in a ceremony viewed on television by more than an estimated one billion people worldwide. About 11,000 athletes from 205 countries and other areas will compete in this year's Games.

To what extent are the Olympic Games more than an athletic competition?

Comments

Comments

Ron
|
New York, USA
August 8, 2008

Ronald in New York writes:

Olympic Games are:

1- A smokescreen for Human Rights violations.
2- A display of Economic Power.
3- An opportunity to expand tourism.
4- A moment for intense world visibility.
5- A Commercial and Cultural marketing coup.
6- A risky venture for states who are hypocritical.

Molly
|
District Of Columbia, USA
August 8, 2008

Molly in Washington, DC writes:

While I do feel that $40 billion is more than excessive for an opening ceremony alone, considering the fact that over 500 million residents of China live off of $2 a day and that 5 million residents of the Sichuan province are homeless in the aftermath of the 2008 earthquake, I am willing to put that aside. I am a realist; there are plenty of policies in this country and many others that I do not come close to supporting. But, the Olympics are much bigger than that. They are so much more than an athletic competition. In my lifetime, the Olympics have been the only time I have witnessed the world come together. For me, this is a time to put aside my political beliefs and revel in humanity. The Olympics should be looked at as an opportunity to teach our children acceptance and about history and culture. There are a lot of problems in this world, but we should look at this as a positive event, and maximize the potential it creates to promote awareness of and love for others.

Moshe
|
District Of Columbia, USA
August 9, 2008

Moshe in Washington, DC writes:

The Olympic Games are the one moment that countries around the world can share in their similarities and their differences. A venue where athletes can compete with one another as equals. Each earning their right to compete by focusing on sports, lifestyles, and dreams that they share in common. For the most part, they have all trained the same. The athletes have spent thousands of hours perfecting techniques that the world, not the individual, has developed for sometimes thousands of years.

Behind every athlete are millions of eyes watching, waiting, and hoping for the dreams of a nation. Each step, throw, jab, shot, row, and kick is counted, analyzed and critiqued by adults and children alike. With every victory is an automatic rush of excitement, of appreciation, of pride, and sometimes of tears of joy. All of us share in the ability to have a hero, a champion that will do her, or his, utmost to realize victory for our people, our country, our nation.

The athletes... In their hours, their blood, and their sweat, they compete against each other, themselves, and with one another. They share just a few moments of life dreamed of since dawning their uniform for the very first time. Their struggle is together, we watch them from every part of the world together.

The Olympics are not simply a competition, they are a chance for all people to gather around the world, to celebrate and to rejoice in the dreams that make us similar. In the Olympics a competitor is not someone that is beat. No, a competitor is someone that is recognized as an equal and who is their to bring out the best in their opponent, so that they may achieve all that is possible and more. Let us watch, let us learn, and let us do this together as one.

Syrian P.
|
Syria
August 9, 2008

SNP in Syria writes:

How many shackled laborers worked for free in this Communist State to produce this waste of money venue. Communism is the most atrocious human right decimator, matched only by the Church of Christ.

Christian
|
Australia
August 9, 2008

Christian in Australia writes:

This is the first Olympics in a long time in which I feel its important for Americans to win as a proxy for the American way. I haven't felt this way since the end of the Cold War.

I know what's changed more recently: Fault lines are forming between China and the West. The tension of this stategic competition can have positive dividends. China has touted its rapid response to its most recent earthquake in contrast to the Hurricane Katrina debacle in the US. With the eyes of the east watching the US, you can be pretty sure the US government won't be so lax in its responses to future disasters. And it hasn't been (re: Mid-west flooding). Again, this is similar to the Cold War when a nation's ability to take care of its own was one of the most effective ideological defenses.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
August 9, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

Once upon a time, some genius in Athens figured it might be a good idea for nations to bonk heads in an sporting arena, rather than on the battlefield. And ever since then the Olympics have proven their worth in that regard, as a diplomat's tool to foster healthy relations among nations.

Gives nuance to what we consider civilized. So "to what extent?" are the Olympics more than a sporting event...lends one to safely conclude they are part of the fabric of a vibrant global society.

Ronald
|
New York, USA
August 9, 2008

Ronald in New York writes:

To what extent?.....

For China's Olympics....

The "Birdcage" should be made of razor-wire.

John
|
Greece
August 9, 2008

John in Greece writes:

Today's "dish" is Chinese, with a little "Russian romance" of the past. Obviously, they think (Russians) it never ended. (the plate)

But, it did!

So, let's make today's dish a thinking "buffet".

THE RECIPE
SERVES:
Who knows how many are alive in Ossetia right now?
What about Tibet?

INGREDIENTS:
I would suggest the use of the very interesting No6 suggestion of Ronald.
Ronald in New York wrote:
"6- A risky venture for states who are hypocritical".

DIRECTIONS:
Eric in New Mexico, as always, made the plate extremely colourful!
Eric wrote:
"a good idea for nations to bonk heads in an sporting arena, rather than on the battlefield"

MAKE AHEAD:
We should have asked Mr. Putin this question, before the Games:
TO WHAT EXTENT ARE THE OLYMPIC GAMES MORE THAN AN ATHLETIC COMPETITION?

Matt
|
Massachusetts, USA
August 10, 2008

Matt in Massachusetts writes:

The Olympics have always been about sports. From the very ancient games, when competitors used to come to prove who was the fastest, the strongest, the best. So it should be today. However, it can't be possible. I believe the route the U.S. has taken today is the best possible one: vocally, we call for change in China's internal policies; however, we allow for our hundreds of Olympians to compete, instead of dashing their hopes for Olympic gold. Shame on those who talked of boycotting the Olympics. History has shown that a boycott has had very little impact on internal affairs, apart from that on the hopes of the athletes who are barred from competition because of meddling by politicians.

Susan
|
Florida, USA
August 10, 2008

Susan in Florida writes:

The Olympic Games...What they symbolize is that for a moment the whole world puts grievances and cynicism aside. Last night I watched all the athletes come into the arena, most all were smiling and laughing, amazed to be there to represent their country. If only for a moment, it was wonderful to see.

wiseman
|
Syria
August 10, 2008

Wiseman in Syria writes:

40 billions for one boring ceremony is great example of what money can't buy

who wake up the sleeping dragon will suffer the most

i bet many know the answer and hate to admit it like fragrance of ck

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
August 12, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ John in Greece -- Interesting recipe, though I don't think I'll be trying that one out in my kitchen anytime soon...but...

Apparently, Dipnote was a good idea....now we have "mission specific" blogs sprouting up as well.

http://www.usunnewyork.usmission.gov/blog

Morgan OBrien posted something there that may prove relevant to the hostilities going on in Georgia, as it concerns Olympic rules of the games.

"While the Olympic motto is made up of three Latin words: Citius, Altius, Fortius (which mean Faster, Higher, Stronger) the spirit of the games extends beyond the fields of play. Among other things, the Olympic Charter calls for the preservation of human dignity, the right to compete in sport without impediment and respect for universal fundamental ethical principles.

In addition to these aspirations, the Olympics also bear a rich history of tradition. An important rite of the Games is the notion of the Olympic truce. Drawing it's inspiration from ancient Olympics, this time-honored tradition saw wars suspended, armies willingly put down their arms, to at least temporarily allow athletes to settle international issues on the fields of play. According to the poet Thucydides in The History of the Peloponnesian War, this truce was so serious that the Spartans were once banned from competing and fined a hefty 200,000 drachmas for invading Lepreum in violation of the truce.

Together the motto, charter and traditions of the Olympics serve as the moral compass as modern International Olympic Committee continues its efforts to inspire peace."

----

If Russia and Georgia are both banned from competition for their willing mutual combat at the expense of peace, then so be it.

Past precedent will be well served.

Sandra
|
California, USA
August 10, 2008

Sandra in California writes:

I think Mr.Putin has shown 'US' that he can make the Olympics as political as anyone else. I realize he is an egomaniacal math wizz, who believes he is good at stratagy because of that fact. I think his arrogancy and jealousy, over the big show Beijing is putting on, got the better of him. It appears to me, that he was looking for an opportunity, any excuse he could find, not to pay them a compliment on their success', so any excuse is a good one to start a war if one was raised by the old KGB! I has seen KGB stratagy for more than 50 years now, and this is just so obviously typical. I believe Mr. Putin would not have done as he has if he realized how obvious it would be. I don't expect him to leave Georgia, either. He has told the West to stay out of it, and that in the face that Georgia has been seeking admission to the European Union. If his actions and words do not show what his demeaner will be if they are allowed admission, I can't imagine what it will take. I hope the US and European Union do not let the situation continue for long before taking strong action, preferably sanctions, or, I fear, Georgia will be lost. Ukraine could be after Georgia. Putin was schooled by the KGB from the age of 7, his is not his Mother's son! Thanks for your hard work!

Syrian P.
|
Syria
August 11, 2008

SNP in Syria writes:

@ Sandara in CA

Don't mess with the Russians, specially KGB officers Sandra. They are ready to prove Russia to the world and will jump on the opportunity to prove it. A very poor and silly act that is orchestrated by the U.S. with Israeli thugs training Georgian inferior troupes. No one got a chance. Just as with the swift U.S. defeat in Lebanon by the Shia militia and SSNP members, The plotters denied any link and blamed the ally for recklessne, to save face.

Lets see the coming Iran fiasco. Maybe they already pre-rehersed this conflict with Iranians, so all can save face and end the N conflict so that Cheney can kiss the Ayatollah pipelines a blessing.

John
|
Greece
August 12, 2008

John in Greece writes:

@ Ronald in New York -- Your comment, "The "Birdcage" should be made of razor-wire", is extremely artistic and ABSOLUTELY true! I would say intelligently surrealistic! That's how I would paint the 2008 Olympic Games too.

And when the "episode" will be over, I would travel the "painting" around the Globe's art exhibitions under the title: "Iron-y work made of hypocrisy".

@ Eric in New Mexico -- And what if "Russia and Georgia are both banned from competition for their willing mutual combat at the expense of peace"?
And then what? What about Tibet? What about hundreds of other places on earth -- especially in Africa -- that hypocritically participate today in China's Games, but at the same time they fight each other, this very time we talk?

I believe in the Olympic spirit and the whole concept, however I fear, it tends to become a "Eurovision" show with let's say more global participation than the song contest: too many lights, decoration, fireworks, dances, singing, expensive hotels, too many guest they do not pay at all for being there etc. A show!

It may sound cruel, but according to my opinion, positive Diplomacy, in the new millennium, may be more successful concerning the Peace and Global Message, than a two week sport event that costs billions of $ every four years.

Jeton
|
Kosovo
August 11, 2008

Jeton in Kosovo writes:

These Olympics have been overshadowed by the Russian agression of Republic of Georgia. Sphere of influence of Russia has been sphere of devastation in the past i.e Afghanistan, and I don't think there will be peace if Russia pursues these policies.

John
|
Greece
August 12, 2008

John in Greece writes:

@ Sandra in California -- Thank God, some people like you are still sober and do keep on thinking. Ex-KGBs DO NOT CHANGE. THEY WILL NEVER CHANGE. THEY STILL HAVE "PLANS" (and secret allies).

I totally agree with you. That's why we should all (West) remain united and awake. The worst danger is if we get asleep and relaxed. We must not believe that everything of the "cold" past is over.

It's not.

The following years -- although many thinkers do not accept it -- Russian economy will go from worst to worst! They have nothing except gas and oil they already hardly sell compared to the "investments" they have made. They never had anything at all.
Anyone, name me a successful Russian brand? of anything. Tough, right? They have nothing at all. No economy, no production of internationally respected products, except Niva "jeeps" and Stolichnaya! Ok! They cannot sleep in GM when they think of the competition that Jack Daniel's will have to face?

Even during the "Soviet" communism, 10% of the KGB and the party people in the USSR had a better life than the other 90%. That's why they made it possible to "politically" survive for many decades until the final fall: "minimums", but enough. Today, only 1% of the people there (ex-KGB, ex-party, Mafia and ex-high ranked persons) enjoy money and power. Nevertheless, 99% of the people watch them enjoy the "new era", but 99% do not! These people (the 99%) will soon create "problems" bigger than they did during the Soviet fall. Ex-KGBs know it and they will try to make the scenery cloudy. They will try to send to sleep the recent Russian "99% capitalistic babies", by using and creating conflicts in order to increase their nationalism and make them forget the everyday differences. They have already begun to do so.

You are right Sandra! Today Georgia, tomorrow Ukraine? What's next? Poland? And then what? This may be a fiction of mine, but I think that soon enough we will have -- once again -- to face the real teeth of the "Past".

Best Regards Sandra!

Kirk
|
Kentucky, USA
August 11, 2008

Kirk in Kentucky writes:

What made Georgia think it could storm South Ossetia without Russian retaliation is beyond me. That region is, despite claims of autonomy, clearly in Russian hands. With the very heavy majority of people in South Ossetia rejecting Georgia rule, they should have just given it up as lost for now. Even if they had successfully occupied the region how could they have possibly hoped to hold off the Russian army with their dinky forces? Their strategy is baffling. If they wanted to reclaim any of their territory the should have focused on Ajaria by making a surprise naval blockade to prevent re-enforcement from the sea and then struck quickly. The Russians could not have rescued it without passing through Georgian territory which would have been a clear violation. If they didn't have enough power to take Ajaria then they should have done nothing at all- except build up their military and work covertly. The first law of any encounter is to know yourself, the second is to know your opponent and its allies. They may have followed the first law but clearly not the second. Such a shame to mar the Olympics like that.

Zharkov
|
United States
August 12, 2008

Zharkov in U.S.A. writes:

It is no mystery why Georgia believed it could rely on "big brother" America to defend it while it tried to expel Russians from South Ossetia.

U.S. officials gave Georgia military supplies, advisors, tactical training, modern weapons - enough to make them think they were invincible - but one thing is missing, and that is our willingness to go to war with Russia over a provocation started by Georgia. We mislead valiant freedom fighters into believing we will step in to save them and then we sit on our hands and watch them die - in Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Bay of Pigs, and now Georgia.

The intentional killing of Russian soldiers by Georgian troops during an agreed upon cease-fire, without lawful justification, happens to be murder. U.S. officials responsible for aiding or conspiring with Georgian military forces to murder Russian soldiers should be looking now for some really good lawyers.

Victoria
|
Canada
August 12, 2008

Victoria in Canada writes:

Upon hearing that the 2008 Olympics were to be held in a non-democratic state a common initial response was of disbelief due to the political and social limitations of the hosting nation. In light of this initial response one can surmise that this common consensus seems to point to a natural political element within the Olympics itself.

Nonetheless, the Olympics is clearly an athletic competition; yet this does not negate the fact that the Olympics can be easily used as a springboard for a political platform. This is not necessarily a bad option, when used in such a manner as to promote universal freedom(s); such as,that which was modeled by President Bush recently in Beijing, by his very brief but succinct statement promoting religious freedom for all peoples. His action depicts a manner in which sports can be used to further peace and common ideals within a global setting and is also something both Americans and the world of sports can be proud of.

Syrian P.
|
Syria
August 12, 2008

SNP in Syria writes:

@ Zharkov in U.S.A. -- Zharkov said:

"We mislead valiant freedom fighters into believing we will step in to save them and then we sit on our hands and watch them die -- in Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Bay of Pigs, and now Georgia."

The list is a lot longer. you can add Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, and few more in East Asia. Americans are the most traitorous of people, outperformed only by Israelis. They broke promises to all, even the Kuwaiti ruler on the occasion of liberating Kuwait celebration, in his speech, the Emir publicly thanked each and every country that helped in Liberation from Saddam except he deliberately omitted one, guess which, the United States, wonder why.

Zharkov
|
United States
August 12, 2008

Zharkov in U.S.A. writes:

The sad fact is that any distracting media event, such as the Olympics, serves as a smoke screen to cover actions that government officials would never try if the news media focus was directly upon the government.

All you need do to confirm this is to examine the unpopular laws enacted by state legislatures the day after the attack on 9/11/2001, and Congress is no exception either. The Patriot Act, for example, was enacted by a Congress that never bothered to read the law they enacted.

Whenever a major news event occupies the public mind, you can be certain that nasty things are happening elsewhere.

I would guess that the Chinese government is extremely disappointed to see their otherwise happy occasion become an event remembered by war. I suggest that the next time U.S. officials decide to arm and train little nations for war, that they stop pretending that we will help them when they make a big mistake by actually starting a war.

We cannot remove the Russian Army from Georgia, so let's not kid ourselves into thinking we can push them out with NATO. Europe does not want another world war -- they have been there and done that.

Meg
|
New York, USA
August 12, 2008

Meg in New York writes:

Now here's the true spirit of the Olympics:
http://tinyurl.com/6boy8k

Kirk
|
Kentucky, USA
August 12, 2008

Kirk in Kentucky writes:

@ SNP in Syria

"Americans are the most traitorous of people,
outperformed only by Israelis."

Sir, I take great offense to that.

I've listened to your slanderous assaults on U.S. policy for sometime now. While your vehemence is often disquieting and your racism disappointing, I admit you do often raise good points and shed light on things people need to see. However, I would urge you to be very carefully when characterizing an entire nation by the actions of a few.

Say what you will about our government, it is a system not a person, but when speaking of people you do not know, you would do well to rein in your tongue. I demand respect -- and give it in turn. You will speak to us on the level of mutual respect, or not at all.

You may have your opinions, feel free, but please have some consideration about how you express them.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
August 12, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

Lot of folks killed on both sides Zharkov, needlessly.

Today the Russians have called a halt to their opps, but when the smoke clears, both sides will have to answer to the people for the results of nationalistic pride.

Russia would do well to offer humanitarian aid to those civilians caught up in the fighting, regardless of nationality. And so would Georgia.

To say to the people that military action was not directed at them, but their government's military.

To accept that responsibility to rebuild civilian infrastructure as a result of both parties actions, including Georgia, may be a starting point for both nations to work together in a more positive method to restore people's trust, hopes, and lives in the region.

Both nations should accept that that they have been part of the problem, and are now faced with a choice to become parties to a long term solution in favor of peace.

Atrocities against civilians were committed by both sides, and the forensic evidence will tell the tale.

These issues will require international scrutiny amd investigation in a fair and just manner to reach any conclusive determination placing blame on individuals responsible, regardless of their official capacity in the respective governments.

I believe it was made clear to Russia that they risked much by continuing to attack Georgian soverign territory outside the two separatist regions. Risking their role in the G8, their status in WTO, and risked direct military confrontation with NATO if regime change in Georgia was in fact the Russian intent of their actions.

The Russians themselves created this legitimate concern among those in the security council, France, the US...and others because of the poor use of words used by Russia in that the Georgian President "must go."

Obviously some clarification was in order, and has now been given by Russia to refute that intent.

An "Olympic truce"??? We'll see.

Joe
|
Tennessee, USA
August 12, 2008

Joe in Tennessee writes:

The most significant premises it sets is simple:

People are simply people, we bleed, rejoice, cry, celebrate, disappoint and elate in the same way...

It is leadership which is the problem and perhaps even in my own personal life and yours, this is where the ball is dropped.

It is the People of the World who are important, not the few via non representation.

Anna
|
District Of Columbia, USA
August 12, 2008

Anna in Washington, DC writes:

The Olympics are first -- and I think foremost in the minds of most people -- about the athletes, the competition. Who is not in awe of the feats of these sportsmen and women? They work so hard, and many overcome great challenges to participate. Their stories and efforts are inspiring.

The Olympics is, of course, more than an athletic competition, though. It cannot help but be anything else. The Olympics invites the world in. Whether it wants to or not, the Olymipcs cannot shut out the accompanying politics. Anytime such a disparate group of countries and interests are brought together, there will be other agendas, too.

The first two "political moments" at these Olympic Games inspired me; the last one made me think.

(1) Georgian and Russian athletes share emotional embrace on the medal stand despite their countries' conflict.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/olympics/2008/08/georgian_and_russian_athlete...

(2) U.S. Olympic team selects former "Lost Boy of Sudan" to carry the American flag at the Opening Ceremonies.
http://olympics.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/08/06/former-lost-boy-of-sudan-to...

(3) The Koreas march separately during the Opening Ceremonies.
http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-koreas11-2008aug11,0...

Syrian P.
|
Syria
August 13, 2008

SNP in Syria writes:

On another note? Which I was going to make here first, before reading something that caused this fit of suppressed anger to come out. The photo shown and the telecast of the firework on the opening ceremony was either partly produced by digital animation using 3D Studio Max and Particles module software, the actual scene is less impressive, this is a digitally rendered and reproduced version, not real.

DipNote Bloggers write: The photo is real, just taken with a special lense.

Zharkov
|
United States
August 12, 2008

Zharkov in U.S.A. writes:

@ Kirk in Kentucky -- Kirk in Kentucky, what is your view of the U.S. purpose in arming, training, and modernizing Georgian military forces, and why was Putin warning us against this?

Do you see no connection between the military assistance we gave Georgia and the war in Georgia?

Did the Bush Administration miscalculate the reaction of Georgia's president to the influx of weapons, war materiel, and Western and Israeli military advisors?

Susan
|
Florida, USA
August 13, 2008

Susan in Florida writes:

@ Kirk in Kentucky -- Thank you for your comments to SNP in Syria. I have been greatly disturbed by their relentless anti-semitic, anti-American comments. You state your objections well.

Pages

.

Latest Stories

October 1, 2014

Making Connections in Ireland

Last week, the U.S. Embassy in Dublin, Ireland , hosted an inaugural event, “J1 Connect,” which brought together hundreds of… more

Pages