The Olympic Games has expanded and grew since its revival. This paper shows how the Olympic Games changed from the 20th century up to the 21st century. It also highlights how improvements in technologies, increases in funding and other remarkable changes made the Olympics a very exciting and fun to observe globally. It also examines how these changes have something to do with the preservation of the Olympic Idea set by Pierre de Coubertein when he helped in forming today’s International Olympic Committee.
Olympics Games in the 20th and 21st Centuries
The Olympics Games are growing every spectacle. The recent 2008 Beijing Olympics set a record for the most number of athletes participated. According to the International Olympic Committee, 204 National International Committees participated in the Olympics which set the record. The number of women participated in the event is the most in the recent Olympics. Several countries received their first-ever and medals like Afghanistan, Mauritius, Tajikistan, and Togo while Bahrain, Mongolia, and Panama received their first-ever gold medal. (International Olympic Committee)
Every country was given the chance to qualify and participate in the quadrennial event. The Olympics had given the opportunities for the host countries to showcase their culture and tradition and share them among the competition nations in the whole world. Every Olympic Games, funding for the Olympics is increasing accompanied by growing number of sports and athletics being added. What is exciting about the Olympics nowadays is the spectacular show in the Opening and Closing Ceremonies. These things only show that countries that are hosting the Olympics are using more funds to make it memorable not only for their countrymen but for the participating nations as well. (International Olympic Committee)
For the coverage in the Olympics, the 2008 Beijing Olympics set a record for the most number of visitors in the International Olympic Committee website of 5 million unique visitors as compared to 2.4 million last 2004 Athens Olympics. The recent also was the first Olympics Games to have a global digital coverage and have broadcasted into the most regions around the world ever. Around 16.5 million viewers on the IOC’s channel on YouTube website coming from Africa and the Middle East were recorded. The advancements of technology definitely increased the excitement and made the last Olympics a very successful one. (International Olympic Committee)
The Olympic Idea from Ancient Greeks up to Today
Otto Szymiczek, on his article the Fundamental Principles of the Olympic Ideology, mentions the institution that was built by the ancient Greek civilization and gained world-wide repute. The Olympic Games to which Szymiczek was referring to is still living up to the idea of keeping the nations in mind of the things they should prioritize like activities and aspirations that will assist and maintain the idealistic values of human feelings instead of engaging in hazardous, destructive and conflicting acts. The athletic ideology as cited by Szymiczek, is focused on enriching human life by improving it with simplicity and nobleness which also develops happiness. (Szymiczek, 1975)
The Olympic Ideology consists of a treasure of social and cultural elements as a result it has assumed today the facets of a universal social movement which was described by Avery Brundage, the President of the International Olympic Committee as “contemporary religion” and “greatest social power”. (p. 617) Szymiczek also mentioned several ideals that were inspired by the Olympic Ideology: (1) appreciation of the worth of athletic virtue, (2) devotion to mankind’s universal ideals, (3) living out the principles of fair competition, (4) respect in a mutual way, (5) recognition of the advantage of opponents, (6) working out for excellence, and (7) dedication to a thought that no material benefits can build up. (Szymiczek, 1975)
The Olympic Ideology’s substance was supplied by Pierre de Coubertein who was known as the founder of the Olympic Committee and the reviver of the Modern Olympic Games. Coubertein’s experiments and investigations of the ancient Olympics led him to the conclusion that the Greeks used competitive sports as an avenue of neither developing the body nor by offering an inexpensive show but in molding the human personalities. Coubertein and his colleagues believed that character development precedes the physical and body training. The training of the body in dignified emulation at competitive sports can lead into the growth of the mind and thus, results into the creation of a “perfect and fully integrated human personality”. (p. 618) The ancient games as observed by Coubertein were related to religious worships which signified the attachments of divine encouragement and exhortation. Simple rules were also observed by the players and delegates so that the Gods, who were the patrons of the games, will be on their side. (Szymiczek, 1975)
The observations that were extracted from the ancient games enlightened Coubertein to apply those things in the Modern Olympic Games. With the creation of the International Olympic Committee, who will serve as guardian of the Olympic Games, Coubertein added the several elements in order to execute the needs of the people today. One was the international character of the Games. Another was the addition of different athletic sports and competitions that were based on an assumption that all sports are equal in value if they are correctly carried out. Another dimension was the development of the strengthening the relationships and exchanges of ideas between nations for world peace. The last element was the eradication of racial discrimination. (Szymiczek, 1975)
According to Sigmund Loland, the Olympic Charter, or the rule book of the International Olympic Committee has definitions of the fundamental principles of “Olympism”. As stated from the Charter, the Olympism is a thinking of exalting and putting together the qualities of a body into a balanced whole. While seeking to blend sports with culture, this ideology aimed at building a philosophy based on happiness found on effort, value of good example, and respect for the universal fundamental ethical principles. Similar to Szymiczek’s the goal of Olympism is to put sports in a place for the harmonious development of man with an attitude of creating a peaceful society focused on preserving human dignity. (Loland, 1995)
The Olympic Idea which was started by Coubertein, has gone through different periods of enhancement accompanied by the improvements of technology and social changes brought by the two World Wars. However, these changes did not affect the basic idea that was extracted from the ancient Greek civilization. As observed today, the Olympic Idea is a way of thinking of pursuing intellectual achievement together with the growth of physical abilities. The final goal is the harmonious development and the perfection of the individual as competitor. To add more, the Olympic Idea as cited by Szymiczek, is aimed at reaching the Greek ideal of “kalos k’agathos” which means the good and beautiful. This can be achieved through educating individuals and the groups of people in a process of making them physically and mentally harmonious individuals. The Olympic Idea contains purely academic and educational principle; and affects not only the individuals who are directly involved with the sports such as umpires, players, coaches and trainers but also the huge number of the masses. (Szymiczek, 1975)
The Modern Olympic Games according to Szymiczek are regarded as the biggest social phenomenon of the modern times because its structure is consisted of a world-wide society without any discrimination as the Games promote “mutual appreciation, co-operation and friendship among peoples, sincere understanding and fair competition on equal terms”. (p. 620) Also, the Olympic Games eliminate the discriminations regarding nationality, race, political systems and beliefs, classes, financial status and social development while stressing out the importance of individual effort. The Games encourage international understanding among nations and assist young people in developing an understanding on sense of freedom, and give chances and opportunities for the idea of living side by side in a community. (Szymiczek, 1975)
Assessment and Conclusion
The Modern Olympics have showcased great individual and group talents coming from several countries throughout the world since its revival. The advancements in technology have made the Olympics more exciting to watch by any person around the world. The improvements also made every Olympic Games memorable aside from the new records set by athletes and other participants. What is great about it is that the competing nations have preserved the Olympic Ideals and made every gathering like a reunion of the whole world. Teams have respected one another which only show nations respecting each other competencies and abilities as well. Overall, the change was a significant one for the whole world because Olympics did not only promote sports and development but also showcased mutual respect, cooperation and other values among many countries around the world.
List of References
International Olympic Committee. ‘Beijing Games Facts and Figures’. (accessed 04 December 2008) Available from: http://www.olympic.org/uk/games/beijing/full_story_uk.asp?id=2774
International Olympic Committee. ‘The Olympic Charter’. Lausanne. 1994.
Koulouri, Christina. ‘First Modern Olympic Games at Athens 1896 in the European Context’. Pp. 59-76.
Loland, Sigmund. ‘Coubertein’s Ideology of Olympism from the Perspective of the History of Ideas’. OLYMPIKA: The International Journal of Olympic Studies. 1995. Vol. 5: 1-29.
Szymiczek, Otto. ‘The Fundamental Principles of the Olympic Ideology’. 1975. Pp. 616-629.