Friday, August 3, 2012

Olympics and the International Community

by Bethany Mandel

From the moment the International Olympic Committee (IOC) turned down the request to commemorate the deaths of Israeli Olympians killed in Munich forty years ago the tone was set for how the games would portray the international community. The Olympics are meant to spotlight sportsmanship and patriotism, but have given the games and many of their participants black eyes on the world stage.

The anti-Semitism exhibited by the opponents of the Munich moment of silence weren’t the only instances we’ve seen so far. Members of the Lebanese judo team refused to practice next to Israelis. Commentators on Al-Jazeera derided Israel as the Israeli delegation entered the stadium during the Opening Ceremonies. The Palestinian Olympic chief applauded the IOC’s decision to forgo a moment of silence for the Munich 11. Israeli swimmers were left without a security detail at a training camp outside of London, even in the wake of the Burgas terror attack. The London Olympics’ website couldn’t quite understand where the city of Jerusalem lies, first awarding it to “Palestine” as its capital, leaving Israel without a seat of power. The list of offenses against the Jewish state unfortunately goes on, and equally unfortunate, given how much time is left in the Olympics, there will no doubt be more to follow.

The embarrassments don’t end there, however. Stories about the cruelty of the Chinese government in their pursuit of gold have circulated the internet along with heartbreaking photos of crying children, removed from their families and forced into grueling training. CNN published an opinion piece today about the story behind the Saudi women’s Olympic squad, showcasing the backwards cultural impediments to female athletes in the Middle Eastern nation. Stories have emerged about doping, thrown badminton games, fencing controversies and unfair judging for gymnastics competitions as well.

Can someone please remind me: What’s the point of the Olympics? What was once billed as a rare opportunity to put ethnic controversies and rivalries aside for the sake of “the game” has warped into exactly what the “international community” has become: a body of nations plagued by mainstream anti-Semitism, led by totalitarians, perpetuating everything they claim to be working to combat.

Bethany Mandel


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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The Olympics long ago lost their way, Once the purview of amateur athletes today it is largely professionals who are earning big bucks in endorsements etc. etc. ( as well as many earning sport's salaries) The simple love of the sport has been taken over by which country can produce the largest and most grandest opening ceremony and by the world's wars being fought in the Olympic Stadium and venues. Maybe the Olympics have outlived their usefulness. The ideals died long ago, when will the bodies follow?

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