The International Olympic Committee writes on its website that the Olympic Truce was established in ancient Greece through the signing of a treaty between three Greek city-states—Elis, Pisa, and Sparta—to allow safe participation in the Olympic Games for all athletes and spectators, who were otherwise in constant conflict with each other. Today’s three superpowers—the US, China, and Russia—are doing just the opposite, using the Olympics as a stage for political warfare that only increases animosity. Worse yet, despite the UN General Assembly resolution of October 25, 1993, to observe the Olympic Truce, the rest of the world takes sides in the feud.
Even without an official boycott, as in this year’s Winter Olympics, the war still rages and the athletes pay the price. They are doped, suffer frequent injuries, and are often verbally, physically, and even sexually abused by their coaches. Spectators, too, are pitched against each other in the name of national pride, the exact opposite of the spirit of unity that should prevail in the Olympic games.
Ideally, the games aspire to build “a peaceful and better world by educating youth through sport practiced without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.” Today’s Olympic “Games” could not be further from this spirit.
Competition is great when it motivates us to improve ourselves. But there is no self-improvement in being ready to kill one another because one person jumped with a stick one centimeter higher than his or her competitor. And what about the whole issue of defining gender in women’s sports? The whole concept of sports has become so self-centered and distorted that it has lost its merit.
For this reason, I would cancel these competitions altogether. If we bring the wars into the games instead of using them to end the wars and promote peace and unity, then there is no point in holding them at all.
We should compete over who helps the world the most, not over who exploits and abuses others the most. Are these the values we want to pass on to our children? Is this the kind of people we want them to grow up to be? If we want them to live in a world where they can trust others and have friends to associate with, we must at least try to set an example of unity and mutual consideration. Afterwards, we should encourage them to follow in our footsteps. But if the Olympics do not promote the spirit of unity, then we should not hold them.
220208 Federico Pellegrino of Italy, Johannes Høsflot Klæbo of Norway and Alexander Terentev of ROC (Russia) celebrate after competing in men’s cross-country skiing sprint final during day 4 of the 2022 Winter Olympics on February 8, 2022 in Zhangjiakou. Photo: Joel Marklund