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Reminiscing the innocence of a world united
London Olympics 2012
Member Name: sbw80
London Olympics 2012
Date: 31/07/12, updated on 31/07/12 (72 review reads)
Advantages: You can forget everything else and just see one World
Disadvantages: In reality that one World is not equal, not even in the games
There's a lot of cynicism around the 2012 games. I myself am included in the voices of those who oppose it but I do admit that there is a magic to the event. The opening ceremony. I'm not referring to the house with lovely projected images (Although i still don't know why Waynes World was shown, it's not British) or Mary Poppins banishing the nightmare monsters. Yes, Danny Boyle did a good job (I loved that he honored the NHS) but to me that is not what the opening ceremony is about.
The Olympics, based upon the Greek games in Olympia (Which incidently is why Greece always walk out into the stadium first), began when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) was founded in Paris (The reason why announcements are in French first) by Pierre de Coubertin in 1894. The first games were held in 1896 in Athens, Greece, 14 nations took part. 205 countries are competing in the 2012 games, out of 243. By my calculation 84% of the countries in the world are represented. There is no other forum where you could witness this level of different cultures coming together that's why I love the opening ceremonies.
When I was 8 years old the Olympic Games were held in Seoul, South Korea. I have to admit that I don't remember any sporting events (I'm not really a fan of sports) but images from the opening ceremony have remained in my memory. Not for the flashes of colour, music, synchronised choreography or the dove incident (Which was a pretty stupid idea) but because it gave me a greater understanding of the world.
Watching the different countries take their turn walking into the stadium, hearing names of the places that were completely foreign to me and seeing all different types of people from different races, it gave me a sense of wonderment and an understanding that I was a small part of a much bigger planet. It showed me a world beyond my own. I didn't understand the politics and the conflict that the world holds at the time, I'm not sure I still understand it now, but in that moment of my naive childhood perception I saw a world coming together as one. A world united. Yes, they were coming together for conquest and pride, to take the golden claim of being better than everyone else, but at a young age I just saw the beauty of it all. Men and women from across the globe all standing together in one stadium. Strange and mysterious people from exotic places with unusual names helped to form my perception of the world.
With age has come cynicism and a developed view that I don't like competitive sport. I'm the type of person who would give everyone gold medals if I could. The problem is I really don't care who wins and think far too much money is wasted on the games (Especially this year as I'm a GB tax payer). Aside from the money Britain has spent to host the games , this country also invests £100 Million each year from lottery and the Exchequer. "It invests Exchequer and National Lottery funds in Britain's best Olympic and Paralympic sports and athletes to maximise their chances of success on the world stage." (http://www.uksport.gov.uk/pages/about-uk-sport/) There is a target for the number of gold medals we aim to win and I have no doubt that there's a business plan on a desk somewhere. To me, the Olympics have become corporate, about winning gold to prove that we are better than everyone else. It is not an equally playing field (It's the equivalent of suggesting that Manchester United are on equal footing as a small kick around in the park). The more money you have the more you can throw at your athletes to improve their game and for those who can't afford it then it comes down to the luck of genetics. In my opinion I don't think the term sportsmanship can be applied.
The Olympics back in the days of Olympia required a truce. During the truce of the games all military action, executions and wars were put on hold. People were free to travel safetly to the games, politics was put aside. Yet the amazing (or tragic in some circumstances) thing with the Olympics is that it can be a source of politics in action, something that I remember most when I hear the word Olympics. This year Saudi authorities lifted a ban on women competing, in 2000 North and South Korean athletes walked out under a single flag, the dissent of the Free Tibet movement during the 2008 Beijing games. Tommie Smith and John Carlos, the gold and bronze medalists in the men's 200-meter race at the 1968 Olympic games spoke out against racial segregation whilst on the podium to receive their medals, publicised boycotts of the games have taken place to draw attention to political issues and in 1972 Munich games 17 people tragically lost their lives after a hostage situation in which a Palestinian group demanded release of 236 prisoners, bring politics to the forefront. Whilst many of these incidents predate me I think it's important to remember. Olympics can be a force of action, either good or bad, on a world stage. It's something I find hard to forget.
Growing up I've still watched the opening ceremonies, putting aside my Olympic misgivings. I still get enchanted by the countries as they walk by displaying their flags and ponder how many people there is in the world. How many people live differently to me and what it would be like to be them? I google countries that I don't know anything about, Andorra (Not to be confused with the Italian town of Andora) for example has a population of around 85,000, it declared war on Germany during WW2 but did actually join the battle, and has six athletes competing in the 2012 Olympics. They have competed in every Olympic games since 1976 but have never won a gold medal. I'll keep my fingers crossed for them this year.
In reality I know that the world is complex, that peace on earth is a flawed and unlikely concept, yet for a few hours every four years I can watch the world come together. I can see countries standing side by side, flags flying together, and go back to that magic childhood innocence of 1988 and think perhaps...
Summary: Forget reality for a couple of hours