With the Rio Olympic opening ceremony just over 24 hours away, I can’t help but ponder….are we a bit over this international sporting event?

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to say that there isn’t a place for the Olympics, but I’m just wondering if the shine has tarnished a bit on this event?

I recently returned from the US and I have to say, apart from some team kit in Macy’s and a few token promotional signs, the country seemed to be far too focused on the show down of Trump V Clinton than the impending Olympics. Here at home in Australia, it feels much the same. Macca’s are flogging their Aussie inspired menu, we’ve all had our say on the team uniform, Channel 7 is reminding me every 2 minutes that they are the exclusive Olympic channel yet some how, the buzz just doesn’t seem to be there.

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It’s fair to say it hasn’t been an easy road to Rio and I do wonder if this has taken the wind out of the Olympic sails? The country has come under scrutiny with is preparedness and the Zika virus has caused more than it’s fair share of controversy with calls for the games to be cancelled and olympians and media people pulling out over fears of contracting the virus. The on-going violence that haunts the streets of Rio is a continuing concern and the world continues to be increasingly anxious about terrorism. So can the Olympics realistically rise above all this?

Then there is the on-going question on viewer interest. Have we lost our drive and interest in Olympic sports? The IOC has made it clear that they are constantly opening the games up to new sports in order to capture a more youthful audience who seem to be more interested in chasing a virtual Pokemon down the street than backing their country in a range of sports.

I remember the 2000 Sydney Olympics like it was yesterday! The country was crazy with excitement, we simply couldn’t get enough of the Olympic spirit, and yet here we are a mere 4 games later and Jarryd Hayne joining the Gold Coast Titans seems more exciting than Olympic gold! So what’s gone wrong? Of course it’s going to be different we aren’t the hosts but there’s more to it than that, it’s like we’ve lost our belief that the Olympics is the pinnacle of sport?

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I grew up in the era of the golden years of Australian Olympic sport. We had the unbeatable swim team with the like of Perkins, Hackett and up to the Thorpe days. Then there were the Freeman years in track, our divers, shooters, cyclists and well….the list goes on. When Australia hit a gold, the country erupted and I’m sure it was the same no matter where you are.

Perhaps we have forgotten what the Olympics is about? Perhaps we are too caught up in the bad that’s happening in the world and the divisions that are getting bigger rather than remembering that the Olympics is a chance for the world to come together peacefully and unite in sport!

Here’s the thing, we may have heard negatives about Rio, and things may not be perfect but seriously people…..this is the Olympics!

In just over 24 hours, athletes from around the world will come together in unity to celebrate the diversity of the world through sport. These athletes have devoted years to strict training to get to this level. They should be seen as driven, motivated role models and they are outstanding representatives of every country (or non country)….so come on people lets get behind them!

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Whether you’re a lover of golf, tennis, swimming, boxing or pentathlon, no matter what country you come from, if you support your old heritage or your new country, let’s get behind some athletes and give them some support. They have achieved more than you or I in the last 4 years! Just being able to participate is a win, let alone standing on a podium, receiving a medal in honour of your country….what an achievement!

I know that despite the concerns and the global distractions leading into this Olympics that Rio will put on an event that is second to none. I know that I will be here watching all types of crazy sports, cheering on the Aussies and backing the under dogs! I know that like so many people, I will get swept up with Olympic fever and I am soooooo ready…..so I hope you are too!

Come on team it’s time to put all the hatred, concern, violence, depression and negativity on hold and get behind your favourite sport, cheer on some athletes and take a moment to remember that sport is unique in it’s ability to create unity in a turbulent world!

Will you be watching the Olympics??

 

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Published by Nicky Ainley