International conflict overshadowed by unity of Olympics

For the past week and a half, millions of people around the world have had their eyes glued to the television as they take in the twenty-second Winter Olympics. Throughout the event, we see a positive global camaraderie; all nations flock together and compete against one another, not with weapons or bombs, but with skis, sleds, and skates.

Leading up the Sochi Olympics, threats of terrorism were made, the unfinished buildings and architecture were commonplace, and Russia’s recent anti-LGBT policies were being heavily scrutinized. While negative media followed the Sochi Olympics since it’s inception, these Games have prevailed as relatively successful and received positive reviews from the athletes themselves.

Watching the Olympics on television, you notice the melting-pot of various ethnicities, cheering in the same stadium under the waving flags of many nations. However, if you step away from Sochi, this union of nations is no where to be found as the flags have been replaced with guns and lives.

Just because the Olympic flame is lit, conflict around the world doesn’t cease.”

— Andrew Birkeland

Just because the Olympic flame is lit, conflict around the world doesn’t cease. Maiming and murder continues in Syria, the suburbs of Chicago,and Iraq. Human rights abuse is still rampant throughout the world.

Despite being a symbol of peace amongst the violence and chaos, the Olympics are not perfect. Corruption runs wild at the highest levels of the International Olympic Committee. Perhaps the biggest factor in choosing an Olympic city isn’t whether a country is sufficient in the resources needed to host the Olympics or if the games would positively impact a hosting nation, but which influential figure can drop the most money in front of the IOC committee.

It is nearly impossible for everyone in the world to be satisfied by who is chosen as an Olympic host. And in America, we feel that every single Olympic games should be held on our home soil.

While the Olympics do have their shortcomings, the people who are responsible for these are the executives rather than the Olympians themselves who represent the core Olympic values: Inspiration, determination, excellence, equality, friendship, respect, and courage.

During the events, the competitors cheer on their opposition regardless of their nationality and even in defeat, are appreciative of their opponent’s accomplishment. They support each other and stand by one another throughout the games. It’s the Olympians, not the bigwigs who are promoting the breaking of barriers and unity between nations.

Once the Olympics are finished and the Olympic flame extinguished, the world’s problems will continue, but there will be no athlete ambassadors promoting the unity of the world’s nations. That burden now falls to us as humans to put aside the differences we have with others and to look for where we are similar. Sadly, for some people, this is impossible and believe conflict and eradication are the only solutions, but, for another few days, we can focus on humans are their best rather than be forced to confront the atrocities of the world.