The Olympic countdown has begun. Soon countless spectators around the world will be cheering their teams; spending sleepless hours air punching or feeling their combined heartbeats exceed their expectations. On the other hand, the participants have sweat -soaked their dreams long enough and the time has come for them to see if their ‘enough’ is good enough. The world is ready to cheer.
But honestly, there’s much more to cheer than just the sheer power, strength and speed showcased in the Games. Away from the cut throat competition, the aggressively shattered records and the ‘do or die’ motto, there exists something intangible; beautifully wrapped amidst sport shoes and sweaty vests; it hovers above all the shattered records; above the winners and the losers and above the organisers and volunteers alike. It’s called the spirit. It teaches how to rise against all odds, it hints at progress and it reiterates that we are the citizens of the world. I am beginning to cheer harder and even before the ‘London 2012’ begins because the spirit of Olympics has already begun.
As a woman, I am inclined to cheer the increase in the number of women participants. This increase may seem insignificant to the women in a secure setting but is momentous to those, who have lived their lives with gender inequality and discrimination. To quote the figures, in London 1908 Games, a mere 1.8% participants were women which swelled up to 42% in Beijing 2008 Games and now for the first time, women will compete in every single sport. That’s progress! Making it more impressive is the fact that, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Darussalam would be sending in their female athletes as well, which means that every single National Olympic Committee would be sending a women athlete!
As a parent, I am also inclined to cheer the inclusion of the underprivileged children in the Olympic spirit. In the spirit of Olympics, IOC, UNHCR and Samsung have launched sports kit programme for the young refugees, ensuring that more than 150, 000 youngsters in refugee camps will now have access to sports. This has been rolled out in 20 countries throughout Asia, Africa and America in the form of a sports kit, the launch, symbolically, coinciding with the ‘World Refugee Day‘. This kit consisting of the basics such as balls, bibs, caps, shirts and marking chalk, is enough to organise sports activities, allowing these children to have some semblance of a normal childhood. The ‘joy of sport’ would be reaching many more young lives and a simple act of kicking a ball comes riding on a bigger agenda of providing hope to those who have little else.
In IOC Executive Board member and President of the International Ice hockey federation, Rene Fasel’s words, “Sport is more than competition, sport unites the principles that the Olympic Movement holds dear: education, sustainability, non-discrimination, universality, humanism and solidarity. These are the principles that drive far-reaching social change.” That’s the spirit I am talking about.
Competition is great but I feel uncomfortable about turning in to a blood- thirsty opponent who may be your friend, but would hate to see you succeed. My competitive juices run on abysmally low contents, so we know that I will never be seen in a competition but you will surely see me as a spectator. As a supporter, I will cheer the loudest. As a spectator and a bystander, I am much in awe. Aware of my competitive inability, I am inclined to cheer the competitive spirit as well. I salute the blood, sweat and determination of all these athletes, representing their nations. There’s something so brave, so noble and so beautiful in their determination.
I salute you all and when you shatter a record, I will be cheering your accomplishment; but then, it’s your belief in self and your rise against all odds that I will be applauding the most.