I am watching the male weightlifting competition as I am writing this article on the London 2012 Olympic games. The photos taken are from people celebrating their country’s participation in the games during the London 2012 opening ceremony.
I am a little bit embarrassed to admit that I ‘escaped’ from London on the day the Olympic games opened, as I started to get a bit claustrophobic from the inflow of people coming in London for the Olympics. I am however watching some of my favorite sports on TV every night from my hotel in Istanbul.
Couple of months ago I looked to buy some tickets for gymnastics, diving, tennis and athletics but they are all sold out, naturally, but during the couple of games since the Olympic game opening I was shocked to see entire blocks of empty seats in the stadiums. Media is speculating that these tickets belong to some of the sponsors of the Olympic games, and that they simply decided not to attend, while there are millions of us who are dreaming about the opportunity to attend the game.
“The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well”– is the Olympic games creed used since it was spoken for the first time in 1908 by Bishop Ethelbert Talbot and adapted by the father of the Olympics, Pierre Coubertin.
Unfortunately if not athletes themselves, the countries representing their athletes have used sports as political propaganda- starting from Cameron’s speech about investing in the UK, and US’ withdrawal along with 64 other nations from the 1980 Moscow games. Many athletes’ careers in the past depended on whether they supported the winning political country and during the Cold war athletes success was taken as a national success against a political enemy. Today, perhaps we do not see such explicit antagonism but Olympic scandals are definitely reflective the host’s socio-economic state.
The organization of the London 2012 Olympic games was silent and very secretive- you had to complete an application to win a ticket for your favorite sport in the Olympic games, impelling me to draw a parallel between the Olympic Games ticket application and the work applications in London- some lucky few are awarded with tickets, while the majority are granted with privileged access, secured by their contacts.
In spite of all, it is difficult to separate politics from sports- on the one hand politics use values such as determination, discipline, power, endurance and strength which are sought after in sports, while the individual athlete feels the need to match his goals with his nation’s vision (to compete for his/her country not just for him/herself) in order to acknowledge his identity and obtain clarity in his routine.
Still it is important to remember that the Olympic games celebrates individual growth and achievement and better performance of some countries is not to be taken advantage of and used as an international relations policy. While in some situations national teams are motivational powerhouses in others, especially after repeated under-performance national teams become cancerous- the ‘death’ of one athlete mentally contages the others who fail mentally before even starting the challenge. Olympics motto Ceteus, Altius Fortius–Swifter, Higher, Stronger must not be forgotten both at the Olympic games and during our individual victories and struggles.