The Olympic Games are the oldest human competition in recorded history bringing together the world’s greatest athletes to compete for the recognition and pride of their respective countries.
The official motto of the Olympics is
“Citius, altius, fortuis,” a Latin phrase that translates to “swifter, higher, stronger.” The recent actions of protest against the Games and the ceremonial torch are doing little more than disrupting the spirit of the Games, rather than bringing about any sort of pragmatic or relevant solution to the problems endemic to China and the Chinese government.
The facts and legends of the Games are intertwined at times without much certainty. However, the ideals behind the games cannot be disputed: to garner the tradition of the Olympic Truce, sportsmanship and the admiration of athleticism.
A man by the name of Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the International Olympic Committee, was the inspiration behind the revival of the Olympic Games. His reasons for having the Games were the same as the Greeks’ — to have a set of games once every Olympiad (four years), to promote peace, friendly competition, and admiration of human accomplishment. The very essence of the event is one of unification and an opportunity to bridge gaps between nations even during times of controversy.
The symbol of the Olympic Games, the intertwined rings, was designed purposely as an all-inclusive sign of unity between participating countries, all of which have at least one color from the Olympic rings in its flag.
To boycott the Olympics, to protest it, and extinguish the ceremonial flame is to turn one’s back on an event built around peace. It is snuffing an opportunity for an international competition in which men and women can focus on fighting for a medal instead of their lives.
The problem is not the Games, it’s the apathy exhibited when problems do not blow your house down. The solution is not the Games either, but to break the narcissism that keeps our country so quaint and tidy.
The hot issue: China’s occupation of Tibet. To put it bluntly, Tibet proclaimed its independence by the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan National Assembly in 1913, after centuries of prior struggle. In 1949, the People’s Republic of China was proclaimed and in 1950, 80,000 Chinese soldiers invaded Tibet.
For 58 years the presence and subsequent atrocities committed against Tibet by China cannot be denied or ignored — and they haven’t been, completely. Organizations such as Friends of Tibet have been on the forefront of spreading awareness and soliciting help for Tibet.
But the time to confront China was over the last 58 years, or, for those intent on dragging the Olympics into it, perhaps seven years ago when China won the Olympic bid and the 2008 Olympics Games were set to take place in Beijing.
The Olympic Creed is a reflection on the world’s shortcomings:
“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.”
What is occurring between China and Tibet is a travesty, and perhaps just as devastating is that it’s taken us 58 years to make a call to action.
But to look at the original Olympic oath, before it was muddled with politics, gives us a sense of what the Games were and should continue to be.
“We swear. We will take part in the Olympic Games in a spirit of chivalry, for the honor of our country and for the glory of sport.”