The Olympic Ideal

The Olympics are a major international event of summer and winter sports, in which thousands of athletes participate in a wide variety of events. The Olympic Games originated in Ancient Greece in 776 B.C. with the values of Olympism. Olympism was a philosophy of life that balanced the qualities of the body, will, and the mind. By blending sport and culture, Olympism sought to create a way of life based on joy found in effort, the educational value of positive role models, and respect for universal ethical principles. These elemental values were the strive for excellence, the jubilation of effort, fair play, respect for others and harmony between body and mind, all of which have the same meaning for everyone:  fulfillment of their ambitions and betterment of the world. The Olympic Games continued to foster its ideals for until 339 A.D. when they were shut down by the emperor. In the late 1800s, Baron Pierre de Coubertin eloquently spoke of reviving the Olympic Games to an audience of delegates from countries all over Europe. The idea was voted on and unanimously favored the Olympics. Today, the Olympic Games are held every two years, alternating between the Summer and Winter Olympics, and countries from all over the world travel to compete. Based on the values it fosters, the Olympics have the capacity to bind and bring peace to all the competing nations.

When Pierre de Coubertin had the idea of renewing the Ancient Olympic Games, his main priority was peace among nations, the primary reason the United Nations supports the Olympics. Coubertin was convinced that peace education could only be effective if learning was accompanied by personal experiences. Sport in this sense could become an instrument to reform the international economy and politics, and thus, society as a whole. Today, the Olympic ideals run parallel with ideals of the United Nations: tolerance, equality, and fair play. One of the greatest Greek traditions that is still upheld today is the idea of the ancient Greek truce or ekecheiria. Ekecheria called for all hostilities to cease during the Olympic Games. It encouraged a peaceful environment and ensured the safe passage and participation of athletes and spectators from all over the world.

In the article, UN: At World Sports Forum, Deputy Secretary-General says sports can heal divisions between peoples, communities, and entire nations, the Former Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, declared that men and women athletes have a significant role in the global mission of the United Nations. He emphasized the importance of promoting international understanding among the youth of nations and building strong, diplomatic relationships with our competitors (M2 Presswire, 2000, p.1). Annan believed that the realm of influence that the Olympic Games catalyzed was too important to overlook. He stated, “…the truth is that not very few boys and girls grow up saying ‘I want to be Secretary-General of the United Nations’, ‘I want to be chief executive officer, or even ‘I want to be president’. But millions do grow up hoping secretly – or not so secretly—that they will be the next Ronaldo or the next Michael Jordan” (M2 Presswire, 2000, p.3). Athletes’ special qualities and skills make them models for the rest of society. The values of teamwork, discipline, and sportsmanship are not only agents in victory, but skills for life. Nations should promote these principles because they are respected; the result is a solid foundation for stable and prosperous societies (M2 Presswire, 2000, p.4). Especially when integrated teams succeed, the effects are far-reaching. They demonstrate how people of with different backgrounds and belief systems can work together to achieve a common goal, and are an ideology that the whole world can embrace.

The Olympics bring people together regardless of class, nationhood, ethnicity, or culture. “One may wonder, at first glance, what sport, and the United Nations have in common, and how the realm of corner kicks, long jumps, and home runs fits into the world of treaties, peacekeeping operations, and rural development projects” (M2 Presswire, 2000, p.2). It is the pursuit of excellence among athletes and among nations that they share. Unification on the field can lead to collaboration in other dimensions society, such as the betterment of education, the rectification of health issues, and the containment of AIDS. The sporting industry is in a great position to make a huge difference in the world by teaming up with businesses, trade unions, and non-government organizations who have expressed interest in reform (M2 Presswire, 2000, p.3). United Nations’ agencies, such as UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund, are presently working to abolish child labor, and could use the influence.

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