Kathleen Yu (Philippines) on Constructive Action Inspired by Olympic Values

June 11, 2012

“The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning but taking part.”

These were the words of Pierre de Coubertin, the father of the Modern Olympic Games. Mr. Coubertin was, in many ways, a man ahead of his time. He was both a visionary and an idealist, a man who fervently believed in the values of friendship, respect, and excellence in competition. His vision was realized in the first Modern Olympic Games in Greece, a vision that continues its realization in London over a hundred years later.
The Olympic values that he introduced are as relevant today as they were in 1896. They comprise the philosophy of Olympism, that the Olympic Games exists to promote, among others, “sport at the service of the harmonious development of humankind, with a view of promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity.”

Olympism is not just about winning. As the wise Mr. Coubertin once said, the important thing in life is not to triumph but to compete. It’s how you play the game. This not only applies to athletes competing in the Olympics, but also to the regular person in his day to day experiences. Olympic values of friendship, respect, and excellence are ideals that we can aspire for in our daily lives. These values enable us to improve our abilities, and to develop a mutual respect and understanding for other people.

On an international scale, Olympism is best expressed through constructive action. The activities of the International Olympic Committee include sports education initiatives and environmental projects in the run-up to the London Olympics. These causes are both relevant and consistent to the ideals of Olympic values. However, steps must be taken to ensure their continued impact in the future and to extend their reach around the world.

My proposal is to increase funding for sports initiatives in third world countries, including scholarships for economically disadvantaged athletes. This would make third world countries more competitive globally, and create more positive awareness for sports. Taken collectively, Olympism is really all about participation. It means taking constructive action that embody the values of friendship, excellence, and respect and engage wider and wider groups of people from more and more countries.

In spite of our differences, we are all one. This is precisely why Coubertin’s vision is still as relevant as it was in 1869. Times have changed, but the same values still apply. These values are realized when we, as citizens of the world, put aside our differences in pursuit of common goals.
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