When Original Meaning Is Lost
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When Original Meaning Is Lost
  • Ewha Voice
  • 승인 2004.09.09 00:00
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Pierre de Coubertin, who persistently proposed the revival of the Olympics after its 1,500 years of abolishment, had said in one of his speeches, ?lympism seeks to create a way of life based on the joy found in effort, the educational value of good example and respect for universal fundamental ethical principles.
But what if effort does not pay off, good examples are not rewarded, and basic ethical principles are violated? Indeed, the Games are not solely about pure athletic competition. They have come to reflect the modern reality.
Hostile criticism of the Athens Olympics is widely regarded as power politics playing its tricks on what should be a determination based on ability, not nationality. Political exploitation is present in all international interactions, but it was expected to be excluded from these particular games, as their spirit of open participation reflects the values of tolerance and co-existence of cultures. The Olympics was supposed to convey the universal message of peace. However, the world has watched enough instances where human judgment and subjectivity could not be eliminated. The powerful nations do not only have an upper hand in economics and international relations, but they also have their own means to gain Olympic medals.
The world has been in turmoil due to the incessant international terrorism and the war in Iraq, and the fear has spread to create great tension in Athens. Moreover, this fear is more restricted to some participants in the Games: those who have vigorously supported the war on Iraq. Those who have a reason to fear are in one group, and those that have to pay for it in another. The citizens of Greece have to pay for the security and protection of the Americans and the British. The expense on security is estimated to be 50 times that spent at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games. And to whose pockets is the money going to? Answer: to the producers of missiles and equipments needed for high security inspection, mainly the U.S.
The nature of the professional athletic competition also reflects the competitive aspect of our societies. Hosting of the Game calls for huge capital and is merged with powerful economic interests. The International Olympic Committee (ICO) has the power to select the host country and the official sponsors for the Games. Hard lobbying is involved, but it is carried out in secrecy, thus there is no way to know to where the money slips. In addition, the host country, namely Greece, has tried to take advantage of the Games to boost its depressed economy by raising the price of all its facilities and products in time for the Games. This has backfired, as tourists turned their backs on Athens, leaving it in a no-win game.
The contradictions of the Games are the contradictions of our societies. The point of departure should be in changing the societies themselves, and not in calling for the abolishment of the Games.

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