Image enthusiastically purloined from Google. Because it’s brilliant.
I love the Olympic Games. Winter, Summmer, whatever. I remember every single one since I was born in 1982. I’ve teethed during Winter Games, tried to replicate Torvill & Dean’s Bolero by wearing socks and scooting about on a piece of shiny hardboard, tried to move further than two feet when lying on a teatray on ever-so-slightly-snowy British ground, and found myself and dozens of others, post-night-out, accidentally captivated by curling at midnight.
I can ice skate for max. one minute at a time before panicking, falling, and then only clutching at edges in a state of high panic. I’ve never skiied. I truly cannot conceive of why anyone would ever think luge was a good plan. Curling, to someone who regularly sweeps and mops for a living, seems like a discipline at which I might be brilliant, but then it’s on ice, so maybe not.
You get it: the whole Winter Games thing is magic to me, even when I’ve no idea what’s happening. It’s the fact that you’re watching the very best in the world, and the very best in various countries (and Vanessa Mae, what even?!) performing the thing they’ve trained for years, if not their entire lives, to do. It’s beautiful, to watch someone do what they do, and be who they are, in front of the world.
Which is why the Olympic Charter is so important, which is (amongst many other human rights and corruption issues) why these Games have had such non-athlete-centric press. And it’s important to discuss all the things, to show all the sides, to get information out wherever you can, to separate facts from sensationalism, to find truths amidst extraordinarily large numbers of fireworks. To know how things come about.
But it’s also important to, if you usually would, if you ever would, watch the sport. Support your athletes. Support any athlete you like. Enjoy the sport. Enjoy the Games. There’s no point fighting about and for the right to have your rights at the Olympics if you don’t also actively pursue the point, the sport, the pure joy and utter despair of sporting success and failure and wonder and trying and accomplishment that the Games, in themselves, truly are. The athletes did not choose the location of the Games. Many are performing in less than ideal conditions, quite possibly amidst a degree of fear or anxiety that has no place anywhere. And some don’t even have their yoghurt. The least we can do is, whilst talking about the things that need to be discussed, talk about them, too, watch what they’re doing if we can, and delight in their prowess. Or lack thereof. Because it’s sport, and both things can, let’s be honest, be fun.
May the Games be safe, may the sport be great, may we all learn a few things and not forget them, may the best and most deserving win out, and may the Olympic spirit and message shine through where it’s so desperately needed.