Observations on the Olympics
September 1, 2004
The 28th Olympic Games took place in Athens from August 11 through
August 29, 2004. These games returned to their ancient city and
brought all nationalities and races together. These games inspired
many people to pursue their ideals, however high they may be.
The present Olympic Games, after its rebirth in 1896, have become
the largest athletic competition in the world. In Greek literature,
one reads about Persians who came to participate in ancient Athens
games. The prize was not a gold medal but an olive wreath - men
competed with one another not for material reward, but for honor.
It is interesting that medical studies have shown that some stimulants
apparently were used in earlier Games because the technology was
not available to detect them. However, in these Games, over 3,000
tests conducted helped reduce, if not eliminate, any doubt about
use of banned substances.
Another ethical problem today is advertisers who will sign multi-million
dollar contracts only with athletes who have won a specific number
of medals, thereby commercializing what should be pure athletic
competition. From a positive viewpoint, however, these advertisers
were not permitted to display signs in the Olympic Stadiums, which
is a victory for those who are promoting the purity of the Games.
The Olympic Games should not be used as a forum for political
purposes. People of various backgrounds, different cultures, and
different religions come together to participate in a gathering
that shows what humanity shares, not what divides it.
Although Iranian athletes won six medals in Athens, we should
not compete with countries with higher medal counts, such as Cuba
or Ethiopia, whose social and political systems are not desirable
for our people or our athletes. Keeping in mind that most countries
received half of their medals through their women athletes, Iranian
women should be encouraged and supported to participate in future
We have gifted athletes in most categories. Some events do require
major investment, but others do not. We should not expect everything
to be done by the various Iranian sporting Federations. Let us
join hands in supporting our athletes and coaches and working with
young children under10. They will be ready in 12 years.
In the not too distant future, Iran should be the host of the
Games, where we would share with the entire world our cultural
values and our sportsmanship, our legacy from the founding fathers
Dr. Mohammad Ala, is Professor of Production and Operations
Management both in Iran and the U.S. He is an Executive Board member
and founder of iran-heritage.org, persiangulfonline.org and iranalliance.org.
See features in iranian.com.