McDon­ald:

Unit­ing the world by honor­ing the games

The Covington News - - Sports -

th­ese games.

I’ve learned to em­brace the con­cept of the Olympic Move­ment when the games of the XXVI Olympiad (the Cen­ten­nial Games) were held in At­lanta 12 years ago.

So, I vis­ited down­town for the first time as the sec­ond day of the games was get­ting un­der­way. And as I got off the MARTA train at the Peachtree Cen­ter sta­tion, I stood in com­plete awe, “the en­tire world is here and I am part of one of the great­est in­ter­na­tional sport­ing events in his­tory.”

Each per­son I en­coun­tered wel­comed me with a warm smile, and the at­mos­phere was filled with ex­cite­ment and joy.

Hang­ing out at Cen­ten­nial Olympic Park, I had the dis­tinct plea­sure of mak­ing ac­quain­tances with dif­fer­ent peo­ple from all over the world, as we cel­e­brated the great­ness of the hu­man spirit to­gether as one.

But sadly, a ter­ror­ist bomb ex­ploded in the park, killing two and in­jur­ing hun­dreds. That sin­gle event on that par­tic­u­lar evening was rem­i­nis­cent of the 1972 games in Mu­nich, when Pak­istan ter­ror­ists killed 11 Is­raeli ath­letes.

I re­turned to Olympic park the fol­low­ing day, and found the at­mos­phere was trans- formed into cau­tion and fear. For a brief mo­ment, I un­der­stood what peo­ple felt like whom live with ter­ror­ism on a daily ba­sis, and the feel­ing is in­de­scrib­able and ut­terly help­less.

Yet the games once again brought me back into a pos­i­tive per­spec­tive.

Re­mem­ber Michael John­son? Wear­ing his golden track shoes, John­son smashed the world record in the 200 me­ters and the 400 me­ters in the men’s track and field. And we watched him drape the Amer­i­can flag over his shoul­der and jog around the field vic­to­ri­ously, wav­ing to the crowd on that warm sum­mer night.

His per­for­mance made me re­al­ize that no mat­ter what acts of ter­ror or po­lit­i­cal con­flict a coun­try has can­not stop the spirit of what the Olympic Games are all about. In fact, the best way an ath­lete can make a po­lit­i­cal state­ment is by win­ning a medal.

Boy­cotting Bei­jing will not solve a prob­lem that has been go­ing on be­fore, and will con­tinue af­ter the games are over.

Let the games be what it was meant to be. Let the games pro­mote the very best by way of ath­letic com­pe­ti­tion.

Af­ter all, it’s only fair that we keep it that way.

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