Friday, July 27, 2012

Olympics: Sport, Politics, and Mistakes

The official opening ceremonies are scheduled tonight for the 2012 London Olympics and already the world has been treated to a series of sporting events (soccer or football depending upon which side of the ocean you reside) and some poorly timed mistakes all highlighting the increasing political overtones to a game which is supposed to transcend politics.

Many of the problems are detailed in an ABC News article titled: On World Stage, Olympic Culture Clashes Inevitable, but one of them is particularly interesting to me:

Already, the International Olympic Committee and Prime Minister David Cameron have apologized profusely for the most blatant mistake to date: displaying South Korea's flag rather than North Korea's on a giant screen ahead of Pyongyang's inaugural women's soccer match Wednesday night. The flap sent the North's team off the pitch for an hour in protest.

I am happy that the soccer team returned after a short protest. They won the match 2-0 over the Colombian women's team.

The series of problem highlights how difficult it is to get thousands of moving parts to synchronize for this huge event. If everyone remains focused upon the sport and international goodwill, then the games will proceed successfully despite the unintended gaffes.

But--we are living in a tit for tat world where every transgression demands recompense rather than forgiveness.

I know, I'd really be upset if the US flag were displayed upside down or our athletes were credited to some other country--like Puerto Rico. But while there is a high degree of national pride evident in the games, they are really dedicated to competition across all of the political, regional, social, and religious boundaries which divide and separate the people of this planet.

The more we know each other, the more we can appreciate what they have accomplished to be on the worldwide stage for their few moments of fame and glory. And not fame and glory to the country they represent, but to the sport and athletic excellence.

Let the games begin (oh, they already have begun)

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD
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