'An anachronism': The purpose of the Olympics has all but faded away

'An anachronism': The purpose of the Olympics has all but faded away
Image via Wikimedia Commons / Uwe Aranas
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Every four years, the highly respected Olympic Games are held as an effort to promote global unity, but as the Beijing Winter Games officially opened the XXIV Winter Olympics, a new analysis is arguing otherwise.

Vox Media's Bryan Walsh breaks down why it appears the purpose of the winter games is slowly fading away. He also noted what the Olympics were originally created to signify. "Peace as we understand it now was never a goal of the original Olympics. What the Greeks observed during the Olympics was ekecheiria, which more accurately translates to “truce,” Walsh explained. "What the Olympics offered was a partial interruption to the normal background of near-constant conflict between the Greek city-states."

Walsh began with the ideology behind the international competition.

"The idea that sporting competition between nations can play a role in promoting peace has been part of the Olympics since its origins in ancient Greece," Walsh wrote. "Greek city-states that otherwise spent much of their time at war with one another observed (with some exceptions) a truce during the Olympics, allowing safe travel and participation for athletes and spectators during the Games."

While the idea of unity serves as a great marketing strategy, Walsh explains the reality of the Olympics when the optics are removed. Highlighting the historical timeline of the Olympics, Walsh detailed how the perspective is actually the opposite of what has been portrayed.

"Take away those lofty-sounding ideals, and the Olympics are essentially a glorified international athletics competition that is 100 percent guaranteed to run over budget for its host city," he wrote. "But as the example of World War II shows — not to mention the many Games over the years that have been at least partially disrupted by international conflict, including this one — more often, it is war that has stopped the Olympics, rather than the Olympics stopping war."

In closing, he offered a more complex look at present-day Olympics.

"The Olympics today are an anachronism layered on top of an anachronism — an ancient religious rite first reimagined for a Victorian-era of gentlemen amateurs, and then again for capitalistic excess and geopolitical prestige," Walsh wrote."

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