Goy Phumtim (United States) on Using Social Media to Spread Olympic Values Worldwide

June 12, 2012

The Olympic Games celebrate the very best of our humanity. Despite the changing face of the world landscape, the fundamental values of Olympism – excellence, respect, justice, participation, peace, and openness to others – still hold true and are a necessity today more than ever before. Amidst the stories of conflict, war, and poverty that splash across our headlines every day, the world is still able to come together through the unifying power of the Olympic Games. The timeless values of the Games can serve as the force to invent our future and transform the idea of world peace from a pipedream into reality.
Olympic Values transcend not only time, but also differences. The economic inequalities, social injustices, and animosity that exist in our world today have consigned us to inward-looking silos. We have come to see the differences among us rather than the similarities between us. But in the field of sports, we do not have to be the same color, speak the same language, or have the same religion in order to come together. We become united by our differences and stripped to our barest form where none of these things matter. If sport is emotion in action, then in the end, we all feel the same emotions and come from the same place. The Games have given us countless notable moments that have left lasting imprints on our memories and created heroes and role models who remain etched in our minds.

Whether they realize it or not, Olympic athletes have internalized and become reflections of Olympic Values. Athletes are at the core of the Olympic Games and should also be the cornerstone to spread the Olympic Values. Their engagement can be enhanced by the power of social media as a tool to quickly spread information and mobilize people around a shared cause.

A creative way to realize the Olympic Values is for the IOC, in collaboration with Olympic athletes, to initiate an “online Olympic torch relay” during the lead up to the Games, whereby a virtual flame is “lit” on each person’s Facebook page. The flame can only be “passed on” to another friend or athlete who lives in a different country by uploading a photo from their community that exemplifies the Olympic Value that they value the most. These images will be plotted on a map to show the interconnectedness of our world and the ubiquity of these values.

Olympic Values can be the thread that weaves all of the continents of the world together as one interconnected space. Raising awareness and instilling these values through the power of social media can encourage young people to develop into balanced and empowered individuals and responsible citizens in their communities, which will bring us all closer in the process.

The world is ready for the challenge.
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