I have personally been absolutely captivated by the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.
Despite having some initial doubts after reading articles on the mandatory relocation of citizens in order to clear room for arenas, the Russian doping scandal and additionally, the unsanitary water many of the athletes would be exposed to, I feel that positivity and humanity has finally conquered now the games are underway.
The addition of the Refugee team in 2016 has struck me like a lightning bolt of hope. Regardless of the medals they achieve, simply the existence of this team offers a beacon of light for all people facing conflict in the world, for people who are being forced to flee their homes and even for anyone who’s not in this position but is close to giving up in the context of their own personal circumstances.
The inclusion of this team also further exposes the pressing issues of the growing number of refugees in the 21st century. Olympic athletes are privileged to be representing their countries in the biggest international sports event in the world, just as their countries are blessed to have them competing on their behalf. The Refugee team no longer have a country or national anthem but the fact they were welcomed in the opening ceremony with the Olympic Flag and Anthem sent a message of pure victory to the rest of the world – a victory of hope and humanity over the evils many must face.
Another thing I believe this Olympic Games has exposed and defeated is issues of gender equality. There have been certain reporters that have in fact chosen their words rather carelessly, for example the Daily Mail article dictating that the divers Jack Laugher and Chris Mears (who made history as the first diving duo from GB to bag a gold medal) went for a hug in celebration that wasn’t ‘manly‘. However, the public have not only met these reports with distain but fought back in disgust! Even Simone Biles anticipated any kind of comment that might compare her to a male athlete, stating ‘I’m not the next Usain Bolt or Michael Phelps. I’m the first Simone Biles.’
Commentators who have spoken about athletes’ appearances or generalised due to their sex have swiftly regretted their slip of the tongue and often had to publicly apologise due to the negative responses from the watchers. Although these comments are frustrating, the fact that society is reacting so strongly against gender generalisations is a massive breakthrough!
Watching all these athletes on the TV has really been a privilege and although obviously I’m Team GB (getting a bit too carried away as I basically do a cheerleading dance in front of the screen), when I see the expressions on any of the other athletes’ faces after they have achieved in their event, and the humble gratitude they exhibit on the podium as their national anthem is played, I think I am truly seeing humanity at one of its strongest points.