Why The Olympic Games Are Important

With all of the controversy surrounding the Games of the XXXI Olympiad in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, right now, there have been some murmurs of halting the Olympics altogether sometime in the near future. People are starting to think that the logistics, immense costs, and terrorism threats associated with hosting the Olympic Games outweigh the benefits that the Games bring to the table. I think these people are wrong.

At their core, the Olympic Games are international sporting events, but in a broader search for the true meaning behind the Games, we can view them as a celebration of the entire world community and a method to maintain peace within this community. Bringing the world closer together can have no negative effects; even when tensions are harsh between countries, the Games give rival nations a place to compete with scores and times instead of bombs and bullets. We saw this happen throughout the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union. Just this past week in Rio, a South Korean gymnast and her North Korean gymnast took a selfie together, a happy moment between two athletes from warring sides of a single coin.

Perhaps Rio will not be the most spectacular Olympiad in the history of the Games. The Zika virus is thriving in Brazil. Raw sewage flows in the city’s waters. The government is corrupt. The hills surrounding Rio are veritable fortresses for criminals. And to top it all off — as more of a symbol of the Games’ poor show than anything — the water in the diving pool turned green. The International Olympic Committee obviously needs to take more care when selecting cities to host the Olympic Games, but should we stop celebrating the world’s greatest athletes? Should we stop the Olympics outright? Absolutely not.

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