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Athens reminds world that Olympics are more than sports

What others say

Posted: Monday, August 23, 2004

All things that celebrate elite achievement have their detractors. ...

The Olympics are a case in point. ... Naysayers point to drugs and other cheating, the unbridled commercial greed, the corruption of host-city selections, rich countries cherry-picking the athletes of poor nations, the potentially ruinous costs on host cities, the obscene indulgences of some Olympic family members and the invitation to terrorism. ... This catalogue of complaints may seem an overwhelming case against the Olympics. It is an uncharitable view. ...

The Games are about sport but a lot more, too. They are about individual endeavour and about national aspiration. ... They urge us to cheer and applaud the victors and the vanquished regardless of national boundaries. ...

... The temptation to dismiss the Games as unnecessarily ritualistic, even quasi-spiritual, misses the point. ...

Now that the baton has passed back to ... where ancients initiated the traditions 2,780 years ago, it would be a pity if that goodwill were to be supplanted in Australia by smug self-satisfaction ... intended to compare Athens unfavourably with the Sydney Games. Terrorism left Athens struggling under difficulties not of its making, but the splendid venues have been completed, contrary to predictions of doom, and Greeks need no one's advice on how to party. ...

Sydney Morning Herald, Australia - Aug. 13

... An athlete of the tiny 25-person Iraqi Olympic delegation spoke for all when he said he wished there would be no fighting or deaths in his country at least during the Olympic period. The Greek authorities are taking maximum precautions against possible terrorist attacks ... spending an estimated $1.5 billion. However, tension will be felt in every Olympic venue and public place throughout the country until the Games are over.

South and North Korean teams will enter the opening ceremony together under the single sign of "Korea." ... That gesture will impress many spectators in the Olympic Stadium but there is no assurance that inter-Korean relations will be smoother and friendlier as the joint entry is supposed to symbolize. Still, we do hope that the event will at least offer an excuse for the authorities of the two Koreas to renew their contacts, ending the current lull.

... Our athletes may earn more medals than targeted, or less. But we hope they will win top place in the display of sportsmanship, with unreserved demonstrations of goodwill to everyone, and return home safely.

Korea Herald, Seoul - Aug. 13

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