The Olympics are one of the most important sporting events in the world. Millions of people watch it, thousands of people attend, and athletes from all over the world train their whole lives to participate.
For the last few weeks, we’ve all been watching the Olympic Games, tuning into the sports we like the most and watching the athletes from our country doing their best to get a space on the podium. The excitement we all feel is extraordinary, because it’s shared: by family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, and even people we don’t know. The Olympics are an event that brings people together, even if just for two weeks.
After all, the true goal of the Olympic Games is just that: bringing people together. It’s not so much about competition as it is about celebration and forming friendships with people from every corner of the world. Athletes of all nationalities live side by side, and in this unique moment, 206 countries come together in the spirit of fraternity, competition, and sportsmanship. Since the first modern Olympic Games in 1896, in which only 14 countries participated, the event has gone on to change the course of history. It shows us that it’s possible for all of us to live together in harmony and compete in a healthy way.
The Olympics aren’t really about winning medals. Don’t get me wrong; winning a gold medal is definitely important, but the most important thing of all is participation. Pierre de Coubertin, father of the modern Olympics, said “”The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to participate,” and we must take these words as a basis when measuring the success of the athletes. The sheer effort that each athlete makes just to be able to get to the Olympic Games requires years of training, a healthy diet, and a disciplined lifestyle, in addition to success at previous competitions. So, getting to participate in the games is already a great achievement in and of itself, and it deserves to be celebrated.
If we look at the Olympic Games from this point of view, whether or not the athletes from our country win doesn’t actually define their success. We must accept that the Olympics go beyond winning, and that what really matters is being able to participate in something that is greater than any one individual or nation. So, in the coming days, we shouldn’t feel angry or discouraged if our country doesn’t take home a bunch of medals. The mere fact that our countries are represented there speaks to the tenacity, effort, and strength we share as a people.
In addition, I think it’s important to remember that the Olympics aim to bring people from all over the world together in one place. Yes, it’s a sporting event, but it’s also a cultural one, and it allows us to learn more about places we know nothing about. The Olympics break down borders and expand our universe. And, I am not only talking about for participants; I’m talking about those of us sitting at home watching the coverage of the Games. As we watch the news and hear about the performance of athletes from different countries, we start to dig deeper and do more research about these places in the world. The Olympics force us to expand our knowledge.
Unfortunately, the Tokyo 2020 (2021) Olympic Games have been a little different due to the pandemic. This time, tourists and fans weren’t rushing to the host country, and the stands were empty at the events. While the ambiance might be a bit different from that of 5 years ago, it’s important to remember that the true goal of the Olympic Games is to bring people together. In times like this, thinking this way is particularly important. We may still be far apart, with countries around the world experiencing different stages of quarantine and reopening, but being together and supporting each—even if at a distance–is more important than ever.
This feeling of belonging and identity, of not being alone, is so crucial. And, this is what the Olympics give us. Wherever you are, whomever you’re with…if you’re watching the Olympic Games, you’re not alone; you’re part of a group of people all celebrating the same thing.
Even if we couldn’t experience Olympic Games to the fullest this year, we must not overlook the spirit of the event: the torch of brotherhood, celebration, and happiness that is lit in all of us!