The Unity of the Olympic Games

Posted by on Feb 12, 2018 in ComLead, Integrated Marketing Communication

Historically, in the Ancient Olympic Games held in Olympia, Greece, all conflicts that existed amongst the participating city-states were to be suspended until completion. While this is often cited to be a myth, a united sporting event is what the Games are designed to be.

As the Olympic creed states: “The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.”  Therefore the greatest thing about these Games is the fact that for a short period of time, no matter the political climate, countries are to come together and celebrate their nation’s greatest athletes with the rest of the world.

There have been several instances where these ideals have not been fulfilled though such as the 1948 Olympic Games which took place following World War II in London. These Games did not invite Germany or Japan to participate due to their war-time roles, and the Soviet Union chose not to show despite their invitation. Then there was the terrorist attack that shook the 1972 Games in Munich which resulted in the death of 11 Israeli athletes. And in 1980, the Games held in Moscow led to over 60 nations boycotting the event in protest to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

These are some of the many low points in Olympic history but as much as there is bad, there is good, and the Olympic Games have provided the world with more stories of inspiration, heroism, perseverance, and peace than they have bad. While 2018 may be a year that tests this as the Games are held in a nation notorious for their political divide, we have already seen moments of unity despite the Games having just begun.

North and South Korea have marched together under the Korean Unification Flag (The blue Korean peninsula over a white background) numerous times at various Opening Ceremonies, but their march together this year in South Korea seemed to say more than it has in the past. The two have also agreed to have a joined and unified women’s hockey team including athletes from both North and South Korea competing together.

In addition to this there is the touching story by Chris Mazdzer, who received the first individual men’s luge medal in U.S. history, who recounted how a Russian athlete recently offered to lend him his sled to overcome a slump that Mazdzer had been noticeably stuck in. His words to sum up the generosity of one of his competitors resonate strong with the true meaning of sportsmanship and the Olympic Games: “I think what it shows is that we do care about each other and there is this human connection we have that crosses countries, crosses cultures, and sport is an amazing way to accomplish that.”


Resources: The Guardian & USA Today

Devon Bradley, M.S. Communication & Leadership ’19

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