Tomorrow, 8 August 2008 the twenty-ninth Olympiad begins in Beijing, China.I love the Olympics. I have since I was a child. It’s always been a way for me to see sporting events that aren’t broadcast normally unless you hunt them down on some vague cable sports network or stay up to view in the middle of the night. I admire the stamina these athletes have. I always feel a tightening in my throat during the opening ceremonies, not because I’m proud to see these athletes representing the United States but because they are representing themselves. The Olympics were created by the Greeks as the competition to end all competitions. If you won your sporting event in the Olympics, that was all there was. Of course now it’s a bit different and there are more competitions beyond the Olympics that are on the same level competition-wise, but somehow, through the decades, the Olympics has retained it’s mystique. The athletes who are participating have worked for this one goal: to be at the Olympics and show the world – not just their home country – what they can do.
This year’s Olympics has created mixed feelings. For me at least. The Modern Olympics is meant to be a time when politics are set aside, but that doesn’t always happen. There have been many years when countries boycotted the Games for political purposes and there has been a call for this year to be no different. I feel torn between wanting to support these athletes who have – in some cases – a once in a lifetime opportunity to achieve what they see as the ultimate goal and wanting to support those who protest the human rights violations by China in Tibet and Darfur and other places.
It’s a sad time we live in when we have to chose between supporting athletes who have done nothing wrong and protesting human rights violations. *sigh*