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After Athens
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 games.

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 of Iran.

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, and See features in

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By Mohammad Ala




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