Olympics : Games and Beyond
L Kamakya Kr Singh
When Mirabai lifted ‘Silver’ I missed the announcement on TV. But when I got it in subsequent broadcasts, it came as a benign piece of soothing music, spreading slowly all over the restive body. Last several days, a feeling – “ will any of them from Manipur do it” – had been disturbing the psyche; hope and fear alternately making their rounds in the restless mind. The news came as God’s benediction.
Wordsworth’s celebrated line came hauntingly to my mind
“Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive
But to be young was very heaven.”
There was no stopping of the outpouring of joy.
The celebration was explosive–an euphoria spread everywhere around the country. For long the people had been starving of anything to cheer about–the demon called covid-19 and its siblings–Alpha, Delta ….. etc. had robbed joy from the day-to-day life of the multitudes.
“The most wasted of all days is one without laughter”, wrote the poet ee Cummings. Yes, there was no laughter in men and women all around the vast world. Men are, by nature, resilient and would not easily give up. In spite of the devastation let loose by the unseen enemy, men decided to go ahead with the great human festival, the Olympics. As is the habit of mankind–‘they should’ and ‘they should not’–the debate followed. Japan, the host country was adamant–the event must go on. Later events have proved it has been one of the most well-organized Olympics in its history.
The Olympics (Genesis)–The Greek contribution to the development of western thought and civilization is abundant. Philosophy, psychology, astronomy, geometry, biology, physics, medical, literature, drama, etc.. the Greek contribution is vast and precious. The Olympics is such another gift.
The ancient Greeks loved competition of all sorts. The city-States constantly waged wars among themselves, but from time to time they came together, held festivals of games and sports in honour of the Gods. The most important and prestigious were the games held at Olympia in honour of Zeus, the king of Gods. These Olympic games took place in the summer only once every four years. The ancient Olympic began in 776 BC. Messengers were sent throughout the city States inviting the people to come take part and enjoy the games. To make it possible all wars were stopped. Thus the Olympics grew to be a symbol of peace and friendship, desisting from war.
The Olympics came to an end because of a ban on pagan festivals by the emperor Theodosius I. He took the Olympic games, which were held in honour of Zeus, the Greek God as an offence to Christianity and issued a decree banning all pagan worships. It came to an end in the year 394AD.
Modern Olympics–It was a visionary French nobleman, Baron Pierre de Coubertin, who revived the Olympic tradition in the modern world. Baron Coubertin was a short man (5’3”), but by many measures, he was a giant of the 20th century. Born into the French aristocracy on 1st Jan, 1863, he became a champion of the common men and propagated the values of France’s Third Republic –Liberty, Equality and Fraternity as a young adult. He devoted his life to education, history, sociology and sports. His aim was to help build a peaceful and better society by educating young people through sport. Coubertin was a keen sportsman and enjoyed various games.
His belief was that the key to developing mental and physical energy lay with sports. Under his leadership, the first Olympic games were organized in 1896 in Athens. The official motto of the first modern Olympic was “Citius, Altius, Fortius (Latin for Faster, Higher and Stronger). It was coined by Baron Coubertin’s close friend Henri Didou, a friar, teacher and athletics lover. In july 2021 (Tokyo Olympics), a fourth value ‘Communis’ (together) was added as the fourth value or motto. To organize and supervise the events the International Olympic Committee was created in 1894. As guardian of the Olympic games and leader of the Olympic Movement, the vision of the IOC is to build a better world through sport.
The Olympic symbol, mottos and values – The Olympic symbol is the Olympic flag. It has a white background with five interlaced rings of five colours in the centre, each colour representing a continent – blue for Europe, yellow for Asia, black for Africa, green for Australia and Oceania and red for America (both America). The interlaced rings symbolize that the countries of the world are unified by Olympism.
The goal of the Olympic movement is to contribute to building a peaceful and better world by educating the youth through sport practised without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit; which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, excellence, respect, courage, determination, inspiration and equality. Talking about the spirit of Olympics Coubertin said, “The most important thing in the Olympic games is not winning but taking part; the essential thing in life is not conquering but fighting well…”
Beyond the Games–The president of the IOC, Thomas Bach, said that the Olympic games is the only event to “bring the entire world together” in an address given to mark the International Day of Peace.
The Tokyo Olympic symbolized man’s eternal longing for peace. Even in the face of a formidable enemy, mankind displayed their determination to grapple with the enemy and organized the Olympics. It shows how important the festival is to mankind. It was a display of mankind’s eternal love for peace. Every four years men and women gather in their thousands at a certain predetermined spot and celebrate men and women’s ‘togetherness’ ( the 4th motto included from Tokyo) that men and women represent unity in diversity and they cherish life.
The following three quotes, we can say, represent the spirit:
(a) “I am building a fire, and everyday, I train I add more fuel”. Mia Hamm (Marial Margaret Hamn), (Olympic Gold Medalist)
(b) “Success is not final; failure is not fatal. It is the courage to contribute that Counts”. (Winston Churchill)
(c) “Winning does not always mean being first”. (Bonnie Blayer) Retd. American Speed Skater
We must congratulate and wish well not only to those who had won medals and laurels, but also to those who took part in the games, but have not won laurels. We also should congratulate the millions who shared every moment of the excitement of the events going on in the stadiums or arenas from within the four walls of their homes or from anywhere. It is so because Olympics is for all mankind. Every moment of it is celebration of mankind’s victory over the dark side of itself.
When Qatar’s Mutaz Essa Barshim and Gianmarco Tamberi of Italy decided to share the Gold Medal in high jump, it symbolized mankind’s victory over himself or herself. The Olympics is all about such golden moments.