Baron Pierre de Coubertin’s premise of the modern Olympic Games was always to have sport bring people of diverse cultures together and have them compete in athletic events under a flag of friendship and sportsmanship. This all started to change around 1908 when American James. E. Sullivan climbed to a position of power in US Athletics. Sullivan saw sport as a way to better America, through discipline, regulation and co-ordination. The winning of medals and winning the most medals became a driving force in Sullivan, and it was he who created the comparisons between nations at the Olympic games based on the overall medal tally.
Despite the direction the Olympic Games have taken over the past one hundred years, no doubt those early pioneers will be pleased to see that it still can break down barriers. The news that Greece has pledges its support behind Turkey’s bid for the 2020 hosting rights would no doubt prove that sport can overcome barriers.
There has been hostility between these two nations for a long period of time including four wars that date back to 1821, when Greece won its independence from the then all powerful Ottoman Empire.
“The ties between Turkey and Greece have been strengthened thanks to the power of the Olympic movement to build bridges” said Turkey’s bid leader Hasan Arat.
Let us hope that he is right and the Olympic games can, if you excuse the expression, continue to carry the torch for competition in which respect is paramount and most are equal; there will sadly always be those who look for an edge to prove themselves better than their neighbour.
Turkey is a wonderful country, rich in history and the Ottoman Empire was once one of the most powerful in Europe, as a host of the Olympic Games they would most likely do a great job.