The Rio Olympics (2)

Now we are at the half way stage, I thought I would reflect on the Rio Olympics thus far. It seems to me there is what happens in the sporting events itself and yet what happens outside is also important and has an impact. Then there is that reoccurring theme of all Olympic games that brings out national pride more than any other event I can think off, meaning we tend to see things through our own country’s lens and thus fail to see the much bigger picture.

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Even before the start of the 2016 Rio Olympics, the Games appeared to be fraught with problems. As the Games have progressed, the complaints have piled up or worsened”. That is how an article titled “Rio Olympics Problems: 14 Things That Have Gone Wrong At the 2016 Summer Games” begun. For most of us we (and the media) tend to rather gloss over these problems and understandably so since what is of interest to most of us is the games themselves and the sporting heroics of those who have dedicated much of their lives to being at their best for the games in order to compete with the best in order to win the prize.

The article goes on to give “a list of some of the problems that have cast a shadow over the Olympics”:

  1. Budget Costs
  2. Corruption
  3. Government Upheaval
  4. Housing Issues
  5. Long Queues
  6. NBC Coverage
  7. No Food At The Main Press Center
  8. Russians Doping
  9. Security Scares
  10. Ticket Sales
  11. Traffic
  12. Water Pollution
  13. Strong Winds
  14. Zika

and while I am tempted to elaborate on the above, in particular the partial Russian ban (along with the full ban from the Paralympics), I will refrain from doing so, concentrating on the Games themselves.

I can quite see why people put their lives on hold for two weeks to follow the Olympics, because this is the one time, repeated only every four years, where we can watch the best from 42 different sporting disciplines (check here for list), where for this one only occasion when we can see the best in the world compete at their best, given all their preparation has been geared toward preparing for the Olympics. We are spoiled too, given these days we can view nigh ALL the action on television (and these days via the Internet). It is easy to caught up in the excitement of all what is going on, and while I like to think I have carried on normal life, I know given the 5 hour time lag, there have been more than one late night in order to accommodate some must watch live event.

I have to confess, I am one of those (and most are I would imagine) that tend to organize my viewing around when “my team” is competing and with it the possibility of gaining a medal, and it is with some satisfaction that Team GB is sitting pretty, in third place, in the medal table, behind the USA and China, who have come to dominate the games (along with the recently put to shame Russia) in recent years. Certain events I would not have followed, but for the Games. Earlier on, it was women’s rugby sevens, a sporting event I would not have given a second thought, followed by a fantastic performance by the GB men’s gymnasts. It was fitting that GB’s first gold medal was in swimming, a commanding performance by Adam Peaty, with the swimming team also doing remarkably well. As in previous years, the rowing and cycling teams have enthralled us, but the same can be said for many other disciplines also.

As always, there are noteworthy performances and examples of true heroism, determination and sportsmanship. It was good to see veteran equestrian William Fox-Pitt perform after not long ago being in a coma. Looking further afield, it was good to see US veteran swimmer, Michael Phelps win yet again gold medals. Not long ago he was struggling with depression and had his life turned around by God, and it was interesting (for me anyway) to note the number of Christian athlete winners (e.g. the captain of the gold medal winner Fiji men’s rugby sevens) give God glory for their success. There were of course disappointments, as there always are, for expectations are invariably high, but often surprises too, medals in events we might not have given a second thought e.g. trampolining, dressage, shooting. There were great stories like seeing the North Korean and South Korean gymnasts take a “selfie” together, showing the true Olympic spirit, but seeing the Israeli team ostracized by other competitors was sad. Seeing US gymnast, Simone Biles, all round ladies gymnastic champion, the new darling of the games, was a pleasant site to behold. So was Raphaela Silva, the Brazil judo gold medalist who grew up in the slums. Then there is the anticipation of checking the progress of the Refugee team.

I have no doubt there is going to be much more excitement to come as the games moves into its second week and I have no doubt I will be squeezing in a fair bit of that action and being able to report at the end, notwithstanding the afore-mentioned problems, will report on a successful games with many remarkable performances.

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