Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Why the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Are Important

Now that the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio are over, it is time to reflect on their possible influence on the world. The disparity of medals between the competing nations is a significant cause for concern. Great Britain with a population of 62 million, for example, won 67 medals whilst India, Pakistan and Nigeria, with a combined population of close to 1500 million, only won 3 medals. However, it is pleasing to learn that some competing nations in Rio won medals for the first time in their country's history.

Whilst some countries, such as the USA, USSR, China and Great Britain, appear to use the Olympic Games as a test of national virility, others are left on the sidelines wondering why they are competing at all. In the race for medals, some individual athletes and, at least one country we are told, have conspired to cheat by using performance enhancing drugs. Yet despite all the negativity surround the games, the youth of the world do come together once every 4 years in the nominated city to participate in a range of activities designated to determine the best in lots of different sports.

One of the IOC's  (International Olympic Committee's ) stated objectives is:  " to cooperate with the competent public or private organisations and authorities in the endeavour to place sport at the service of humanity and thereby to promote peace. " It can be argued that international sport has contributed  to peace on this planet in that familiarity through sport and contact between nations breaks down prejudices. Even North Korea participated in the Rio Olympics, winning no medals, despite the negative media coverage over the past few years of the regime running the country. 

Sport especially needs to grab the imagination of youth steering them away from a life of crime or addiction to illegal street drugs. The Olympics every four years does demonstrate to the watching public what can be achieved by years of dedicated training for a particular event or group of events. The dedication of the competing athletes to their training schedules over years in preparation for the Olympics can only bring admiration for their  single-mindness and perseverance.

The Paralympics Games are also important to the world as they demonstrate what can be achieved by people suffering from a range of disabilities. The Rio Paralympics Games has run into trouble over funding which is baffling bearing in mind the paralympic athletes are generally going to use the same facilities as used by the able-bodied athletes a few weeks earlier, and the various media outlets are still in place ensuring worldwide coverage. To lose such an event would set back the progress made by a lot of dedicated people over the decades in bringing to our TV screens the extraordinary accomplishments of these athletes despite their  disabilities.

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