Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the Modern Olympic Movement, developed in the early 20th century a set of universal principles – or values – that, he intended, encompassed all Olympic Games: respect, excellence and friendship (London 2012). His principles were born out of the International Olympic Committees motto of ‘Citius, Altius, Fortius’ – faster, higher, stronger (Allen, 2011). The values were intended to apply to all competing athletes but eventually permeate into society and education.
Fast forward to 1996 in Atlanta, an Olympics marred by the growth of corporate sponsorship, a bombing that gave the event a political edge and a widespread belief that, even if they were not caught, doping was rife among athletes. Each of the following Olympics has followed a similar path, away from the ideals of de Coubertin and the values that have ensured the longevity of the event. Proponents argue drugs now overshadow remarkable performances, the voting process is accused of bribery and pandering to the interests of its most senior officials whilst studies indicate the youth are more uninspired by the event than ever before. Opponents of the motion maintain however that ultimately sport wins out, that the Olympic Dream is forever maintained by the application and dedication of its athletes; countries and athletes continue to flock to the event because of what it represents and that history will not be overshadowed by political posturing or drug scandals. Though the Olympic Games will continue to be the world’s premier sporting event, the debate concerns whether the modern Olympics still carries the dream and ideals of its antecedents?
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