Without condoning corporate or other slavery that may or may not be involved in related construction jobs, I find it important to support the idea of Olympics. Especially the idea of participation in it and oppose preventing any people from doing so. Further more than that, I would consider the idea of rising developing countries such as Brazil, Russia, Qatar, India, and China to organize these events as well in addition to the West.
More often than not, the criticism from international media and activists point out valid concerns such as security, labor rights, and poor administration. Sometimes, these critiques could come across as if developing countries should stay away from the privilege. They should by all means, if it is going to heavily burden them. It does not mean they should stop aiming for it.
To improve life for all the stakeholders, positive criticism on Olympics is very important. But it is best done without condemning the developing countries participating in the process or the idea of Olympics itself.
There is a larger reason to why more nations should be encouraged to participate in the Olympic process.
Olympics is a liberal, globalist, intellectual cultural idea. There is a reason why its creators came up with it and why the leaders of the world, as well as most people of the world, so religiously follow it.
Olympics is truly the only global festival that allows people from all nationalities come together, keeping aside all political differences, in a deeply divided world.
It is one of the few platforms where Iran and Israel and North Korea and the United States gladly send in their citizens to participate without a second thought.
Struggling with countless political ideologies, even more religious beliefs and cults, and other dividers such as race and language, it’s one of the few last remaining unifying factors for apparently the most intelligent species on the planet. Even if in name only.
The international assortment of athletes also presents the perfect opportunity for exposure and education. Most of the times, it brings forth athletes from all corners of the world embracing each other. Especially bringing together people from countries at odds with each other.
At others, it brings prejudice and bigotry to the surface, only to be rebuked due to the universal symbol of peace and unity that Olympics is. Leading to opportunities for shaking prejudiced beliefs.
Time and again, athletes from Muslim majority nations have refused to share space with Israeli athletes. This is particularly insensitive when the brutal cold-blooded murder of 11 Israeli Athletes in the 1972 Munich Olympics are kept in mind. Lately, Lebanese athletes refused to share a bus with Israeli athletes, with the manager blocking the way.
While the story is being used by both sides for their respective partisan agenda, most people are missing a very important point. The exposure and interaction provided by the Olympics are the perfect, very first blow to the prejudiced indoctrination of these kids.
These young athletes and their officials may embarrass themselves with such behavior, but it’s about time that some of them would realize how wrong their behavior is.
While there is always a chance that they would lack such a consideration, you can never expect someone brought up with prejudiced indoctrination to offer the right response at first. But, as humans, they are likely to feel some empathy for the persons of their enemy at some point. Even if they don’t admit it.
This would help a good number of people have the first shock to the wall of prejudice that they have built around themselves. Such experiences would only prove educational, and help them develop empathy for the people on the “other side.” Actually, even an opportunity to cheer for them.
What a distraught Pakistani fan is to do but to cheer for the likes of Deepa Karmakar, Saina Nehwal, and the Indian women’s archery team? Only wondering where ours is.
Furthermore, watching Olympics sports after a break of four long years is a welcome relief from the excruciatingly monotonous cricket, soccer, tennis, and golf running all year long.
The post was originally published in The Nation blogs.
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