Olympics provide a dose of diplomacy
Jared Lang | Highlands TodayHistorically, international relations have always been turbulent. Even in peacetime, tensions between countries reach daring highs and sometimes friendly diplomacy just doesn’t work. There is however, a force that transcends generations and borders to bring the divided world we live in a little closer. In 2012, this force is in London, England.
Published: July 31, 2012
Published: July 31, 2012
The 30th Summer Olympic Games began last Friday and I’ve already watched more sporting events than I knew existed. In one day I saw the U.S. compete in archery, table tennis, beach volleyball, handball, kayaking and fencing. Yet even in my confusion at the rules of each unfamiliar game, I found myself cheering for each athlete like I knew them personally.
This allure, this sudden pride when watching a compatriot compete, is what makes the Olympic games so magical. Olympic athletes carry their nation on their back and when they succeed, millions share their feelings of success. A country may collectively hold its breath when a gymnast soars on his final dismount, then let out an audible gasp when he sticks the landing.
Not only do Olympians inspire their entire country back at home, but their reflections also sparkle in the eyes of each individual fan glued to his TV.
Watching the Olympics creates memories that can be treasured for the rest of your life. My two all-time favorite Olympic moments are the Opening Ceremonies at the 2008 Beijing Games and the come-from-behind win by the USA Men’s Swimming Relay team at the same games. I will never forget the heroics of Jason Lezak, the USA’s anchor, who set a world record while overcoming a body-length disadvantage at the beginning of his swim. I have never screamed louder or been more excited about a sports victory than when he touched the wall before his French opponent. Still, I know that there will be plenty more unforgettable Olympic moments in my lifetime.
The Olympics, however, do not merely bring pride to the nations of the world. No, they are more dynamic than that.
Every four years, from the opening ceremonies to the closing ceremonies, the world is united in its awe for these games. When athletes share the field (or pool, court, ring, etc.), their nations share a bond. Often, there is never a greater connection between two nations than when their best competitors are battling one another. This paradox only adds more mystic to the Olympic games and makes the two weeks that they go on for a time of understanding and compassion that we should strive to live up to all the time.
There will always be international rifts, don’t get me wrong, but for two weeks, we forget about all of that and find unity cheering for our nation. Of course we want to see the USA win every event we watch, but the rivalries we have with other countries exist without any malicious intent. That’s why they are so appropriately named the Olympic "Games". Only the competitive spirit drives each athlete’s will to win.
The whole world, no matter what nationality admires this will to win. In the Olympics, underdogs gain worldwide support and, when they succeed, genuinely bring the world together.
With so much wrong in the world it’s refreshing to enjoy something as pure as the Olympics. These Olympians do more good for struggling nations than many politicians do in their whole lives. They make their countries proud and unify nations that, otherwise, can’t agree on anything.
That’s why I’m awarding each Olympic athlete a gold medal in the most important event of all: Diplomacy.