Will the 2012 Olympics bring the world together?
From Beijing’s dazzling opening ceremony to Usain Bolt’s breathtaking sprints, the 2008 Olympics captivated audiences worldwide. Next summer though, it will have been four years since the Olympic torch was passed from Beijing to London. When London bid for the Olympics, it promised that the game’s legacy would be to encourage young people to take up sports. Thus, a big question is whether this promise will be kept.
Since 2008 the world has been brought together over a variety of issues. Economic problems, terror threats, natural disasters and nuclear disasters, uprisings and civil wars. Yet much of the time these have created rather than healed divisions between and within nation states. How then, can an event where nation state’s identities are more visible than any other time, be seen to promote unity?
Perhaps it is because the Olympics is more than an event that pits nation against nation, it is a competition for individuals. The world comes together for the sake of these talented men and women. People who are at once both ordinary and extraordinary. These athletes work hard to push the physical boundaries of what humans can achieve, and in doing so they inspire and fascinate people all around the world.
So when the world turns its attention to the Olympics of 2012, maybe London will indeed fulfill its promise to inspire young people. If not inspired to start a new sport, maybe inspiration will lie in knowing that people with vastly different backgrounds and beliefs can compete on a world stage with grace, dignity, and most importantly, respect.