The Olympic Games, whose next edition is due in Beijing, China, barely a fortnight from today, has remained one of the strongest sporting events since its inception more than 3,000 years ago.
Not even the Covid-19 global health crisis has dampened the spirit of the Games. Indeed, International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach has characterised the Olympic Flame as a light at the end of the dark pandemic tunnel.
IOC and tens of national Olympic committees have expressed confidence in China to host the 2022 Beijing Games from February 4 for its meticulous preparation since it won the hosting bid in 2013.
Besides routine epidemic management practices like regular screening and inoculation, the closed-loop approach will eliminate interaction between the athletes and the wider population, a safeguard against community transmissions of the virus.
Safety is an important consideration for countries sending their nationals to the Games in the wake of highly transmissible variants of the coronavirus like the Omicron. China’s track record in containing the spread of the Covid-19 makes Beijing one of the most qualified nations to stage this year’s Olympics.
And, for the first time, the Games will be powered by green energy. This is a major effort to integrate sports with ecological conservation, a smart climate action aimed at reducing emissions while setting precedent for other economies.
Nonetheless, a few countries have expressed disaffection with Beijing hosting the games. The United States is, for example, fronting a diplomatic boycott of the Games on account of alleged human rights abuses in China, which the latter has denied and have been discounted by a number of foreign diplomats, journalists and researchers who visited places like the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.
Sporting events have worked to bridge historical, cultural and even ideological divides, bringing people together and creating amity among nations. The stance by the dissenting states runs counter to the spirit of political neutrality encapsulated in the Olympic Charter. It appears that some countries are turning the Games into a theatre of ideological and geopolitical competition instead of promoting the values of excellence, friendship and respect that have defined the Olympics for millennia.
As a platform for inter-cultural exchanges, talent cultivation, education and entrainment, the 2022 Beijing Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games will play an important role towards the global recovery from the pandemic. It will give athletes from over 100 countries and territories an opportunity to break free from restrictions caused by the pandemic while providing a source of livelihood. The entertainment that comes through watching the games will be a major addition to the psychological wellness of humanity at this point in time.
The success of the Beijing Olympics will be a win for the entire humanity and should be supported by all countries. Ideological or political competition should not be allowed to interfere with the Games.
Mr Cavince is a scholar of international relations. @Cavinceworld