Olympic Fever!


I, like many of us, have Olympic fever!  I get goose-bumps throughout the entire event – from watching the Olympians proudly enter the opening ceremonies, to athletes winning medals that result from 20 years of training and dreaming and sacrifice, to the stories behind the athletes – from injuries to life challenges, underdogs to record breakers. Each athlete has their own unique story. For me, this is what the Olympics are all about.

What is even more amazing than the athletic performances is what the Olympics stand for – their values.  The Olympics encourage inclusivity and equality, being the best you can be and uniting people through sport.

Be the Best You Can Be

There is a huge emphasis on winning medals at the Olympics. That’s usually all we hear about on the news – who has won what medal in what sport. Of course winning medals would be the ultimate dream result for both the athlete and the country. However let’s be realistic…there are over 10,000 athletes that participate in each Games. There are only a few hundred medals awarded. So the reality is that only a small percentage of the athletes – Olympians – will ever wear the hard ware around their necks.

Winning medals is not what Pierre de Coubertin intended the Olympics to be about. De Coubertin was a French baron who founded the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 1894. De Coubertin believed that ‘The important thing in life is not to triumph, but to compete,’ and encouraged everyone to compete against themselves. This belief became the centre of the Olympic motto which challenges each individual to become the best they can: Faster, Higher, Stronger. This motto is one that we all should have and promote for ourselves and those around us.

Uniting People through Sport

De Coubertin hoped that sport would contribute to a peaceful and better world. One of the Olympic Movement’s aim is to “unite people through sport”. Part of this unity comes from promotion of fair play – “with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.” To this, the IOC revived the Olympic Truce, which aims to protect the interests of the athletes and sport, and to encourage peaceful and diplomatic solutions to the conflicts around the world. Even the Olympic rings represent the unity and connection between all athletes and the countries and continents they represent.

The athletes that gather to compete all come from different countries, cultures, customs, religions and political beliefs. They all live peacefully together in the athletes’ village. They do this because they all share the same love for sport. All of us in the world should follow this lead from sport. If we could all find commonalities like this in life – such as being human beings! – then perhaps the world could be a more peaceful, supportive place for all.


The Olympic Charter, established by de Coubertin, states that ‘The practice of sport is a human right’. This inclusivity is my favourite of Olympic values. Over the years the IOC has worked hard to increase participation of para-athletes and youth. As well, one of the key Olympic Charter’s values is the promotion of women in sport. This is near and dear to my heart.

Women first were allowed to participate in the Olympic Games in 1900. Over the past one hundred years female participation in all sports has grown. By the last Olympics in London in 2012, 44% of the athletes were female. This is getting very close to their goal of 50%. As the stats for athletes are positive, there is a long way to go for number of women in leadership. Only 26.7% of the International Olympic Committee Executive Board members are female. The International Federations are even further behind this number with only 14% of board members being female. Sadly only 11% of the coaches at the last Olympic Games were female.

The IOC is not sitting idle with these numbers. They are actively working on improving these numbers to bring about equality at all levels and roles for women in sport. They encourage all nations to monitor and evaluate how their own countries are doing to promote women in sport. The IOC has developed educational and training programs targeting women at mid- and senior-level positions in NOCs, IFs and NFs. The objectives are to help women develop leadership skills, to build confidence and to encourage them to stand for elections for positions on boards within the Olympic Movement. The seminars also offer specific ways to learn how to inspire and mentor other women and girls. They also include media workshops for those working in that arena. They aim to raise awareness and educate participants about the importance of the media in promoting gender equality, how to make positive changes in this area and to improve women’s representation in major sports press associations and media organizations.


As you watch the Olympics this week, not only celebrate the achievements of the winners and all athletes. Think about what the entire Olympics represent and stand for. Then carry these values beyond these two weeks and try to make a positive difference for those in your own world.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *