By Nick Rethemeier
The world seems to get scarier and scarier every day. War ravages Syria and Yemen. Brinkmanship has led to fears of nuclear war not seen since a dispute between India and Pakistan in 2003.
Terror attacks happen with increasing frequency and there is social and political unrest at home and abroad.
For the next several weeks, the world will fixate its gaze on the Korean Peninsula (again) for the Olympic Games in PyeongChang, South Korea.
At the end of the games we hope to have answers to some of our most burning questions: How is curling an Olympic sport? Which event do I have the best chance of making? Will the Nigerian women overtake the Jamaican men as the most recognizable bobsled team in modern history? While it is fun to speculate about potential medal winners and new stars that will emerge, the Olympics represent more than the just the pinnacle of athletic success in each country. It represents a brief period in which the world comes together for a single cause.
This stems back to the Games of ancient Greece, when every four years, the rival states would signal a truce to compete in the Olympic Games.
The Olympics by no means represent a cure to the ills of the world, but rather a moment of levity to remember the light that shines in dark places. A time to recognize the humanity we all share through sport.
The Olympics have been the world’s foremost sporting event for generations, and with it has followed the notion that the countries of the world will briefly set aside their differences to contribute to the Olympic spirit.
In 1994, this truce was codified into international law with a resolution passed by the United Nations. Since 1994, the UN has passed a similar resolution calling for a truce before every Olympics.
Are the Olympics perfect? Of course not. As evidenced by the recent suspension of the Russian Olympic Committee for state sponsored doping programs, there are still shortcomings in this model.
The Olympic Games are an institution built and maintained by humans.
Imperfect beings create
imperfect institutions; but does that mean that we should abandon those institutions and the ideals created from them? No—we recognize the flaws and we work to improve them.
This Olympic Games have a chance to cement a turning point in the Olympic Legacy. With the Olympics headed to the frontline of the world’s longest war, a light began to shine. In January, it was announced that the North and South Korean delegations will march together during the opening ceremony.
This historic act represents a chance for change. Will this single act significantly alter the international situation? Maybe not, but it is a start. It may all be a ploy by the North, but until seen otherwise, the international community ought to welcome the Olympics and the momentary respite they bring with open arms.
Let the Games begin.
This is the opinion of Nick Rethemeier, SJU senior