Saturday, July 28, 2012

The London Olympics Round Up: Opening Ceremony

By Shervin Stoney


REUTERS/Pawel Kopczynski

The Controversy
The Munich massacre of the 1972 Olympics was the first and most significant show of politicization at the Olympics. A Palestinian group called "Black September" kidnapped and eventually killed 11 Israeli Olympians and coaches. Marking the 40th anniversary of the massacre, many called for a remembrance of the lives taken at the opening ceremony
. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and its president, Jacques Rogge, decided that the fallen would being honored and remembered at a different occasion. Strangely, I understand and even support this particular decision. The normative nature of the Olympics has generally remained apolitical. The Olympics serve as a time void of politics and religion for countries to come together and celebrate the world’s multitude of cultures and athleticism. The death of the Israelis is superbly significant in modern history, changing the Olympics and the world a great deal and led to an age of enhanced security for Olympians.  However, the open ceremony serves as a venue of absolute unity, right or wrong, even a moment of silence can be viewed by certain nations as a politicization of the Olympics. The apolitical and neutrality of the Olympics is probably one of the most important pieces to the progress of humanity. Sometimes the wrong decision is the right one.

The Ceremony
The British people have one of the richest heritages in the world. Their current understanding of their place in history and importance to the progress of humanity is never been so acutely demonstrated than in the Opening Ceremony. The rich display of British culture, from music to literature during the opening ceremony, and the absence of hints towards their imperialistic past is a demonstration that the host nation is moving away from their darker moments and moving towards a virtuous and humane future. The presentation of the opening ceremony was not that of a empire lost in history, but rather nation discovering its identity.

The true beauty of the game is not in the medals won or the athletic strength of each country, but rather the pageant of harmony that can exits for humanity. Watching the parade of countries, followed by the creation of a conglomerate of not individual nations but “out of many, one people”, truly exemplifies the role of the Olympics in the modern world. The most emotional moment of the opening ceremony was when seven young athletes lighted the flame at the center of the field of Olympians. Symbolic of so much of what makes us who we are and the cyclical nature of humanity. In a final moment of brilliance, the moving rendition of "Hey Jude" by none other than Sir Paul McCarthy himself, led everyone in a sing-a-long during what was probably the most diverse representation of humanity ever assembled.

So what does it all mean? It means that there is yet hope for us. In the midst of the civil wars, financial crisis, global warming, and famine, we are reminded that humanity has endured so much and as always risen to the occasion. The tiny little rock floating in and endless universe might seem lesser at moments but will never be insignificant as long as humanity preserves the power to reason. 

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