While many people around the world are discouraged, and rightfully so, because of all the chaos and conflict that is consuming our daily lives, for 2 weeks in Brazil humanity and people from all walks of life will hopefully have a break to appreciate the greatness of sport.
Perhaps I am being too romantic about the Olympics, given the political and social unrest in Brazil. But despite everything that is going on, the Olympics time and time and time again have given people a reason to smile, to appreciate the human spirit, and the endless possibilities of what we can accomplish. It gives hope that more can be done to make this place safer, healthier, more equal, and more just for all.
When the Olympics begin in Rio de Janeiro on August 5, 2016, people from Canada to Peru, to Australia, Japan, and Iceland can take time out of their busy schedules and cheer on their country. We cheer because of the pride these athletes give us, not just by winning but sometimes simply by competing, making a finals or finishing a race. Sometimes just competing is enough to give entire nations pride and joy.
Whether you’re Michael Phelps, who has won 22 medals, or Rayton Okwiri, a Kenyan boxer, or a Bulgarian weightlifter, the pride they must feel each time they represent their country must be…to me it’s unimaginable. It must be so special, so unique, so surreal that you are hundreds of miles from home representing your country before the world.
To me, regardless of the chaos of the world, the violence, the crime, or war, the Olympics provides an escape, if only for a week or two.
They provide a distraction. But isn’t that what sports is meant to be, after all?