Monday, April 14, 2008

Olympics: Yes or No?

“Faster, Higher, Stronger, No Longer,” an op-ed in this Sunday’s issue of The New York Times urges the end of the Olympics because of certain sordid incidents throughout its history. Writer Buzz Bissinger points out that there have been problems at nearly every Game.

The Beijing 2008 Olympic Games are now associated with human rights abuses, air pollution and food purity issues. Among previous games, there were: the bombing in Atlanta, the Munich Massacre (where pro-Palestinians held the Israeli team hostage and 11 people died), steroid use by top athletes, the bribery of judges, a boycott because of the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan and so on and so forth. Bissinger recommends an American pull-out, asserting that “there is only one way left to improve the Olympics: to permanently end them.”

It is true that the reputation of the Games has suffered from these transgressions and that new rules and regulations are needed to prevent future abuses, through penalty or incentive. For example, it cold be mandated that potential host countries must demonstrate that they do not violate human rights to be eligible.

While there are clearly deficiencies in the Olympics as they are currently constituted, it is very clear to me that the interaction of the thousands of athletes from around the world; the exposure of the fans to other cultures and countries; the good will, camaraderie and hope that are generated far outweigh the defects of the Games. I contend that the Olympic Games demonstrate that the world can come together, that politics can obstruct but not defeat this unity — thereby increasing the potential for friendly understanding among nations.

Not having the Olympics is no solution.

The op-ed quotes sports broadcaster Bob Costas as saying of the participants: “This is their chance to march into the Olympic Stadium. It is the culmination of all their time and effort. Many of them come out of impoverished circumstances, and they are exposed to more in two weeks than they might be in two years.”

The Olympics must remain a symbol of hope and goodwill, and that alone should sustain its reputation, despite the obstacles it may always face. As globalization accelerates, so will the need for greater world cooperation and integration. An American pull-out would certainly represent a rejection of those values as well as being a further blight on our own reputation.


Technorati Tags: Olympics, The New York Times, Buzz Bissinger, Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, Atlanta, steriods, bribery, Afghanistan, Soviet Union, reputation, Bob Costas, hope, business, communications, public relations

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