Looking forward to the Olympics? Well, it’s almost here! The 2012 London Olympic Games are going to be an epic event that will bring out the best that each country’s athletes have to offer.
The Olympic Games are a tradition that goes back centuries to 700 BC; this was the first time the people of Greece held competitions in the areas of boxing, running, and wrestling. However, due to the influence of the Romans in Greece, the ritual competition died down and was not continued until the 19th Century.
More than two millennia later, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) was founded by Baron Pierre de Coubertin and the idea of having internationally rotating Games every four years was conceived. Consequently, the first Olympic Games under the auspices of the IOC were held in Athens in 1896.
Throughout its history, the Olympics have been faced with a lot of controversy. First of all, they are a mass-marketing body that usually generates a huge surplus through corporate sponsorship, the media, ticket sales, and selling the right to use the Olympic symbol – the interlocking rings – to corporations.
In the past, most Olympic Games have individually generated a profit of hundreds of millions of dollars. For example, the Sydney Olympic Games of 2000 yielded a profit of $1.756 billion! The IOC claims that 92% of the profits go to the host city’s Olympic committee, but that means that 8% of the profit, or $140 million, was theirs to keep – and we have no idea what they did with it.
This has led many to believe that the Olympics are simply a massive and greedy marketing tool for corporations such as MacDonald’s and Nike, a way to gain money for the host country and an avenue for the IOC to make profit. These factors all take away from the original intention of the Games: to promote the athletic abilities of the world’s top competitors. After all, why are countries devoting their time to covering up their flaws (specifically the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the cover up of human rights issues), when they can just deal with their flaws and let the athletes shine? It’s way more efficient and can actually solve the problem.
On the other hand, the Olympic Games have become so engraved in our culture that without them, something just wouldn’t feel right. When asked what words come into his mind when he hears the word “Olympics”, my Father said: “excitement”, “family”, and “enjoyment”. The Olympics not only bring family and friends together, but can also strengthen relations between countries. For instance, athletes from every competing nation gather together to see the Olympic flame being lit during the opening ceremony.
So maybe the 2012 London Olympic Games can help improve the world’s current condition. Maybe they will bring hope and inspiration. And with more sustainable infrastructure and more secure vicinities than previous summer Olympics, they are certainly going to be something to look forward to.