Charlotte Davis (New Zealand) on the Role of Olympic Values in Alleviating Poverty

June 12, 2012

What international event brings thousands of culturally diverse people together to live harmoniously side-by-side? What event is capable of captivating people the world over, irrespective of race, ethnicity, religion, or gender? What event has potential to help lift millions of people out of poverty?

The Olympic Games.

Every two years, competitors from around the world live alongside one other and compete as equals in a fair contest. Every two years, most of the planet follows the Olympic Games and supports their fellow compatriots.

Yet every two years the poverty gap in many countries grows worse, and one in ten people in the world are still without access to safe drinking water.

The Olympic Values of excellence, friendship, and respect should elicit a response to this critical issue.

More than anything else, the Olympic Games can generate awareness. With billions of people watching the television coverage, reports around the Games would be an efficient method of drawing attention to the plight of the underprivileged. Education is empowerment. Once those who have the resources are inspired, they have the ability to make a change. This awareness campaign would even be beneficial for those in the developing nations it is aiming to help. What creates a greater sense of global solidarity and hope than knowing that there are people out there aware of and fighting for your cause?

The Olympic effort need not be limited to educational outreach. There is untapped potential for action as well. A poverty alleviation campaign could employ many ways to raise funds. There could be a relationship between medal-winning athletes and public donations gathered for their chosen causes. Alternatively, there could be a global Olympathon in the run-up to the Games to support disadvantaged young people and communities. Such initiatives could be combined with partnerships between developed and developing countries and a parallel competition for developed nations to raise the most money per capita in support of their partner country. Such efforts would be designed to elicit support from people that view and businesses that sponsor the Olympics, encouraging them to participate in the Olympic Games and the Olympic Spirit in a unique way.

What better way to embody the Olympic Values? Excellence is achieved by the athletes striving in the sports arena; friendship is gained by partnering two nations dissimilar in culture, living standards, and education; and respect is acquired by the individuals donating and receiving, of very different backgrounds. Through such initiatives, the Olympic values can help change the course of the twenty-first century and the lives of millions more people.

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