The US, Canada, Australia, the UK, and other countries have announced that they will diplomatically boycott the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing over China’s alleged abuse of human rights. In the past, the world viewed mixing sports and politics in a very negative light. This is no longer the case. The odium among countries has intensified to the point where any means of showing disapproval is legitimate. The ancient Greeks had what was known as the “Olympic Truce,” when all fighting ceased before and during the Olympic Games to ensure that the host city-state (Elis) was not attacked and athletes and spectators could travel safely to the games and return peacefully to their respective countries.
So much has changed since the days of ancient Greece. People had ideals then; we have none. We often think of people in antiquity as barbaric and of ourselves as civilized. In many ways we are the barbarians, and the Olympics are an example of that. We have gone backwards. We can no longer unite around anything. The selfish urge for self-assertion makes us impulsively and staunchly oppose any view of another person simply because it is the view of another person and I want my view to dominate, not anyone else’s.
Then again, the ego keeps growing, and we are growing constantly more hateful of each other, so it is better if the ego demonstrates its nature. At least now we can see who we are and not fantasize that we are somehow more humane or civilized than our ancestors, but quite the contrary. Since recognizing a flaw is inevitably the starting point for correcting it, now that we have come to it, we can start building ourselves better.
If we are still not sure who we are, we should consider the amount of drugs and other illegal and unfair advantages that countries encourage, and sometimes force their athletes to use and employ in order to get on the Olympic podium. It is a war, and in a war it does not matter how you won as long as you won.
If it were sports, all that would matter was how you played and not how you won or if you won at all. In Greece, they played for sport. We play to win.
Competition should bring out the best in us, make us improve ourselves. It should not make us better than others, but better than our former selves. The fact that we compete to create an incentive to improve ourselves is welcome because it makes us push our limits. However, when we compete for the sake of winning, we are not focusing on improving ourselves, but mainly on outperforming others. In this case, it makes no difference whether you achieved your goal by improving yourself or by affecting others. Therefore, we have no concern about hurting others. On the contrary, it is easier and more enjoyable to hurt others than to improve yourself.
In the current form of the Olympics, they have no use other than to show us how far we have strayed from their original intent. The real gold medal should go to those who improve others. That is the true spirit of sportsmanship.
Members of the Tibetan Youth Association in Europe (TYAE) and Students for a Free Tibet protest against the Beijing 2022 Olympic Games outside the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in Lausanne, Switzerland December 11, 2021. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse