Pierre de Coubertin, a French educator and historian, and Dimitrios Vikelas, a Greek poet and author, helped bring the Olympics back to life after fifteen centuries. On April 6, 1896 241 male athletes from 14 nations attended the first games in Athens. There were 43 events.
Back in 1896 the aim of the games was to bring athletic competition, cultural exchange between nations, mutual respect, and creation of global friendships. Unknown in 1896 was the future history of the games where world wars, strident ideologies, political agendas, and terrorism would intrude into these friendly games.
The spirit of the beautiful and inspiring Olympic Anthem created by Spiros Samaras, composer, and Kostis Palamas, poet would be forgotten many times in the decades to come.
Immortal spirit of antiquity,
Father of the true, beautiful and good,
Descend, appear, shed over us thy light
Upon this ground and under this sky
Which has first witnessed thy unperishable fame.
Give life and animation to those noble games!
Throw wreaths of fadeless flowers to the victors
In the race and in strife!
Create in our breasts, hearts of steel!
Shine in a roseate hue and form a vast temple
To which all nations throng to adore thee.
Unfortunately, the Winter Games in the beautiful city of Sochi on the lovely Black Sea have a cloud hanging over them in 2014. There are a number of Western political leaders and groups who are not in agreement with the recent enacted law of the Russian Federation, the host country of the winter games.
Listed in the NEWS Sources below in the References, one can see what the current controversy is about this new law and the reactions of Western political leaders and groups. I noticed on social media during the past year that certain individuals were advocating a change of venue of the games, but the International Olympic Committee chose not to be swayed by these vocal individuals and groups or their concerns.
The Games are big business. Billions of rubles, dollars, pounds, or euros are at stake. Money bears sway in many decisions in our global society, especially in sports. The Olympics are global sporting events.
In the Olympic Charter RULE 50 Advertising, Demonstrations, Propaganda states
3. No kind of demonstration or political, religious, or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas.
The games are supposed to be above politics. They are to enhance a culture of friendship and cooperation between nations every four years as various men and women from the four corners of this planet traversing the cosmos come together to share a spirit of mutual respect and sportsmanship.
Undoubtedly, there will be those who will attempt to dishonor RULE 50 for their own personal reasons. It seems to happen at every Olympics.
Sometimes, these Rule 50 breakers are making a valid and sagacious statement about the human condition and injustice. Other times they are just self-embellishment and sometimes for profit.
The main concern for the games is security. With global terrorism on the rise there will be over 37,000 security personnel. Demonstrations and rallies will be limited to assigned areas.
This decision to limit demonstrations and rallies is not an abrogation of freedom of expression. It’s a security concern.
Too many times people are totally unaware of how dangerous this world is, especially during this type of global venue. Unfortunately, common sense gives way to passion, especially if the person feels deeply about the cause.
If you attend the games or plan to be in Sochi, use common sense and do not become a hindrance to local law enforcement agencies who may view a situation differently than you. These men and women live there. Remember you are a guest in their city and country.
In Sochi there are 400,000 citizens with 122 nationalities. These individuals live, work, and play there each day with their own host of joys and sorrows.
Sochi Mayor Anatoly Pakhomov, “We are a multiethnic and tolerant city. We respect each other. We respect different points of views.”
I wonder what the great Jesse Owens would say to Western leaders who will not attend the Opening Ceremonies. Shortly before his death, he tried unsuccessfully to convince President Jimmy Carter not to boycott the Moscow Olympics (1980). Unfortunately, the pleas of this great man fell on unsympathetic ears. Foreign policy was more important than the athletes who had trained and sacrificed as well as the good will of nations.
Jesse Owens once said about the Olympics:
“Friendships are born on the field of athletic strife and are the real gold of competition. Awards become corroded, friends gather no dust.”
“We all have dreams. In order to make dreams come into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline, and effort.”
May the Sochi Winter Games live up to the spirit which is reflected in the 1896 anthem and Jesse Owens’ words. May many dreams be realized. May lasting friendships be formed as well as mutual respect, understanding, and tolerance. May there be peace and no violence of any kind.
G. D. Williams © 2014
Pictures of the Opening Ceremonies
The City of Sochi
Where The Sea Meets The Snow
Canadian Olympic Committee
BBC Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics Official Trailer
Deutscher Olympischer SportBund
France Olympic Team
Australian Olympic Team
Previous Posts On The Olympics
UK Sport has confirmed Team GB’s medal target for the Winter Olympics is three, with at least two the goal for the Paralympics.
The nation’s high performance sports agency has invested over £14m of National Lottery and Government funding in backing the country’s best athletes over the Sochi ‘four-year cycle’.
Minister for Sport, Helen Grant, said: “We will have a very strong British team out in Sochi supported by record amounts of public funding. I know our winter sports athletes will be raring to go when they reach the start line and they have the potential to deliver our best medal tally in generations. The whole country is behind them.”
About 37,000 personnel are now in place to provide security in Sochi, located on the Black Sea and on the western edge of the Caucasus Mountains. The International Olympic Committee has expressed confidence the Games will be safe.
US President Barack Obama and European leaders including British Prime Minister David Cameron have announced they will not attend the opening ceremony amid concerns over Russia’s rights record and particularly a recent law banning “homosexual propaganda”.
The Washington Post
THE DAILY MAIL
Mr Putin also made efforts to assure athletes and sports fans visiting the Sochi Winter Olympics that the new propaganda laws present ‘no danger’ to them.
The games, which start on 7 February, have cost more than £30billion, making them the most expensive in Olympic history.
The Russian government hopes to show the world a modern face of Russia, which has faced increased criticism from the West over human rights.
Mr Putin’s comments come as gay rights activists marched through Moscow with placards reading ‘Down with all Kinds of Fascism’, ‘ Homophobia in to the Fire!’, ‘ For Peace without Racism ! ‘, and ‘Bisexuals Against Fascism’.