Olympics unites countries

When the Olympic Games come on television, I get so happy. The athletes who compete are truly athletes; they aren’t a LeBron James, Tom Brady or any other professional athlete looking for publicity.  Yes, some Olympic athletes do receive endorsements, but the games show true greatness.
The 2014 Winter Olympics have stirred up quite the tasty cocktail of drama. Preparations for the world’s athletes and fans to descend into Sochi have cost billions. It is the most expensive Olympics in history; according to Bloomberg Luxury, $45 billion. Sochi has been transformed into what looks like a Candy Land layout of 11 custom built venues for every sport with a system of monorail-type trains to get people around. All of the technology used in the opening ceremony made the scene ridiculously beautiful, but I got the impression they were trying too hard. Then there was the dreaded snowflake glitch during the opening ceremony, but hey, it’s all smoke and mirrors to me.
Vladimir Putin has done everything in his power to make Russia look pristine with the whole world’s eyes on them. It is funny though, because all this technology Russia is working with is not what the Olympics are about. Despite all the bad press against the Winter Olympics in Sochi, these games give countries the opportunity to come together and learn some tolerance from one another.
Take Johnny Weir, the three-time U.S. National Champion, 2008 World bronze medalist and openly gay figure skater who has taken Sochi by storm with his fashion statements. Pink blazers, leather leggings, platform boots and fur coats are just a few weapons in his arsenal. Everyday his outfit is paired with an Elvis meets Russia style braided coif and an Instagram post. Weir is currently broadcasting live for NBC with fellow former figure skating Olympian Tara Lipinski and clearly not afraid to be himself in a country with a newly minted anti-gay propaganda law. I love people like that. Maybe Putin will realize how damaging his country’s views are after the Olympics are over.
These Olympics give women ski jumpers the chance to compete for the first time in more than 100 years. While researching the history of the Olympics, I found only single women were allowed to watch the Olympic Games when they began in Greece. Married women had to stay home, and the single women were not eligible to compete, only spectate. The ski jump has been criticized for being unhealthy for women, but that hasn’t stopped 30 women from 12 countries from going to Sochi to compete. According to Michelle Kaufman of the Miami Herald, in 2005 Gian Franco Kasper of Switzerland, president of the International Ski Federation, claimed the sport “seems not to be appropriate for ladies from a medical point of view.” Now the world has obviously changed its mind on that point, thank goodness.
The Ancient Olympic Games started in 776 B.C., and after a brief hiatus, began again in 1896. They haven’t stopped since. Every four years, the Olympics are held in a new place. This year, it was Sochi, who locked in their bid in 2007. We had no control over that.
Though I feel sports and competition are trivial at best, when it happens in the form of the Olympics, I’m all for it. The athletes promote wellness of mind, body and soul. In fact, the Olympic Games were restarted in Athens because of a Frenchman by the name of Baron Pierre de Coubertin. He decided to revive them to promote physical education. It’s ironic that an event promoting physical education has morphed into such a phenomenon it is sponsored by McDonald’s, but sometimes that’s how the cookie crumbles.
Before the closing ceremony, maybe catch a sport or two. Watch how much work these athletes have put in to earn their turn on the world’s stage. They are trying really hard but not for the same reasons as Russia. Their hard work comes from their heart. That’s what the Olympic Games are all about.