The Olympics have officially opened in Beijing. We’ve always enjoyed watching the spectacle, drama, athleticism, triumph and tragedy that is inherent in the gathering of the best in the world. This year, however, there are stark differences that are difficult to ignore. Covid and its effects have placed handicaps on all participants. The uncertainty of being able to compete due to last minute infection, the restriction on training regimens, the inability to have friends and family present for support, and the inability for athletes to mix together and exchange with each other the excitement of being part of the Olympic process has robbed all participants of one of the greatest joys of this event. Of the thousands in attendance, there will be only a few medal winners. For all the rest, the social aspects of the Games have been, of necessity, virtually eliminated. Yes, they still have the honor of representing their countries, wearing the uniform, carrying the title of Olympians. However, they won’t have a chance to form new friendships with others of their own kind, and will be forced to participate in the events under an unprecedented level of political tension not seen since the heights of the Cold War.
It is really a shame, especially considering the level of effort, dedication and commitment these young people had to manifest just to make it this far in their athletic careers. You have to admire all those who were willing to sacrifice so much of their lives to achieve the opportunity just to compete on this great stage. I’ve only known personally two Olympians of whom I could ask this question. One actually won the gold; the other was only a participant. Yet they both answered, “Yes, it was worth it.”
Now, we will watch the tension of the events unfold, watch new heroes emerge, admire the grace, precision, strength, stamina and courage of those that compete, and share in a vicarious way, the disappointment, frustration, and tears of those who fail to reach their goals. Despite all the negative circumstances, we will watch, comment, root for, and thrill with all these supremely talented young men and women willing to push their bodies beyond levels unfathomable to most of us, and at times risk their very lives to achieve the pinnacle of Olympic glory. The very fact that human beings are capable of such feats deserves to be celebrated. Bring it on!