Las Vegas Sun

January 18, 2018

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Sun Editorial:

Olympic spirit

The games admirably focus on more than just athletic contests

2012 Las Vegas Olympians

UNLV's Amanda Bingson is going to the London Olympics after finishing second in the hammer throw at the U.S. Olympic Trials. Launch slideshow »

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In a few days, the Olympic flame will ignite the cauldron above the stadium in London, and it promises to be quite a sight. The opening ceremonies bring a show of pageantry and a rich sense of history. The youthful athletes stream into the stadium, sporting the colors of their nations, and the flame is brought in after a long journey from Greece, where it was lit at the ruins of the ancient home of the Olympics.

The ceremonies mark the official opening of the summer Olympic Games, which stretch for 17 days and garner the attention of people around the world. It is a showcase for the top talent in 26 sports and a display of national pride.

We’re certainly proud of the nation’s Olympians, especially those from Nevada. They have worked hard to make it to such an elite level, and we look forward to the competition. Every Olympics is marked by stunning performances and memorable athletes who are well worth watching.

One of the things that makes the Olympics compelling is that the story of the games is the story of humanity as seen through sports. There are wonderful, uplifting moments — and heartbreaking ones as well. There are always stories of athletes who have overcome obstacles in life to make it. There are also darker tales: scandals, politics and absolute tragedies. Forty years ago, a Palestinian group used the Olympics in Munich as a venue for a terrible act of terrorism. Nine Israeli athletes were killed in cold blood.

The Munich Games were paused because of the massacre, but they ultimately were finished; organizers didn’t want to let the terrorists win.

International Olympic Committee President Avery Brundage declared, “The Games must go on!”

The modern Olympic Games span more than 100 years. They have seen countries formed and dissolved and have been stopped three times because of war, but they persist.

The Olympics are about more than just winning and losing. Organizers praise athletes for showing the Olympic spirit, which is an attitude that considers fair play, integrity and sportsmanship. There is an emphasis on bridging the gulfs between countries and cultures. The International Olympic Committee describes the Games as a “movement” toward “building a peaceful and better world” through sports.

In a cynical world, such a statement may be mocked, but it’s a laudable sentiment.

Although the games are a wonderful display of athletic competition, the real glory of the Olympics is not in the medals nor even in the athletes who dedicate so much time to their sports; it’s in the fact that the world can put aside its differences, come together and compete peacefully, even if only for a couple of weeks every two years.

That alone is worth celebrating — and watching.

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