The 'business' of sport must not outshine Olympian ideals

The Olympic Games of Rio de Janeiro, the first to be held in South America, ended in the early hours of this morning.

The relative highs and lows and the general success or failure of the 31st Olympiad will no doubt attract much commentary in the days and weeks to come and it seems inevitable that much of what occurred beyond the spheres of sporting competition will dominate those headlines.

Ironically Irish ‘actors’ were central - as active participants or aggrieved parties - to many of the more negative aspects of the Games and perhaps the omens in that regard were clear at an early stage when the Olympic diving pool turned a very Irish green.

On a more serious note the 31st Olympiad has done little, unfortunately, to restore the public’s faith in the honesty of the sporting achievement it is designed to showcase.

Most depressing of all, however, is a rising and discernible apathy among what have been dubbed the millennial generation as to what it is the Olympics movement represents and the principles to which it is chartered to adhere.

In that regard we point to the first two principles set on in the Olympic Charter and express the hope that any review, by the Olympic movement and the sporting bodies who ascribe to it, of what transpired in the 31st Olympiad is framed with those principles in mind.

“1. Olympism is a philosophy of life, exalting and combining in a balanced whole the qualities of body, will and mind. Blending sport with culture and education, Olympism seeks to create a way of life based on the joy of effort, the educational value of good example, social responsibility and respect for universal fundamental ethical principles.” 

“2. The goal of Olympism is to place sport at the service of the harmonious development of humankind, with a view to promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity.” 

One can only hope that the ‘business’ of sport and the inevitable consequences of the incumbent commercial pressures it fosters will never undermine - as it threatens to - those long standing and very worthy principles.

It is not overstating the case to suggest humankind - the glory of which is the very thing the Olympics sets out to showcase - would be a lesser species if we allowed that to happen.

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