Olympics are not the place for racism
It’s the pinnacle display of athletic ability. Young men and women train for their entire lives just for a chance to compete. The victors are awarded fame and glory, not to mention a gleaming gold medal to hang around their neck. And it happens once every four years.
The Olympics are the biggest opportunity for athletes across the globe to converge in one place and show the world the fruits of their hard training. It’s a moment where we can set aside our differences in religion and culture and engage in honest competition, where success is measured in good ole’ fashioned sweat and determination. May the best person win.
This year we find the classic world event in London. Despite a slightly odd opening ceremony (nurses flipping children around on beds and industrial revolution dances wasn’t that impressive, but let’s face it, it’s hard to compete with the sheer beauty China brought to last year’s opening ceremony), it’s been a joy to watch the U.S. compete, and London has so far offered a fair playing field for all the countries in Olympic events.
But this year I’ve noticed something that has caught me completely off guard. Twitter has made it so incredibly easy to express even the smallest of thoughts with the press of a button. The news is always putting celebrities and politicians under fire for inappropriate tweets, whether they were intentionally disrespectful or had a simple misunderstanding.
One would think that this kind of behavior has no place amongst the world’s greatest athletes. Surely these men and women have enough respect and self control to lay down their computers and phones and let their performance do the talking. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case.
A Greek athlete was kicked out of the Olympics last Wednesday for a discriminatory tweet, directly insulting the African immigrants in her own country. I understand her intentions may have been humorous, but how could she possibly have thought this was acceptable behavior for someone who is representing her country to the entire world?
It gets even worse. After his country suffered a 2-1 loss against South Korea, a frustrated Swiss soccer player tweeted a racist comment that got him sent back home by his own team. I can’t even imagine the embarrassment and shame.
If there is one event where racism and discrimination should not only be strongly discouraged, but eradicated completely from, it’s the Olympics. If these men and women can’t put aside their differences and let their strength and skill speak for themselves, then they don’t deserve to compete in the first place, especially not in the Olympics.
Put down the iPhone, athletes, and do what you came to London to do: represent your country with pride and show the world how hard you’ve worked.