We’ have already entered the Olympic year and the entire world of sports is currently busy preparing for what promises to be the biggest Olympics in history with 497 medals at stake and 16! countries vying for the 237 gold and silver and the 260 bronze medals that would be distributed at Seoul between the 17th of September and the 2nd of October, 1988.
However, more heartening than the size of the game or the number of the participants or the medals to be contested for is the fact that for the first time in 16 years the Olympic games would be boycott free and at long last the looming shadows of international politics have receded (though not departed) from the Olympic scene.
Table Tennis and Tennis have been included into the Olympic menu for the first time which makes it 16 more events from the 19845 Los Angeles Olympics. Thus the list of sports to be contested in at Seoul now reads as follows: Archery, Athletics, Basketball, Boxing Canoeing, Cycling, Equestrian, Fencing, Football, Gymnastics, Hand ball. Hockey. Judo, Pentathlon, Rowing. Shooting. Swimming, Table Tennis, Volleyball, Weight Lifting, Wrestling and Yachting.
The Olympic is the greatest and most prestigious of sporting galas in the world and the movement was reinitiate primarily as a mood of athletics which still contribute the bulk ‘of the activates. However, with the passage of time, other sports have been added to the list and as more and more new events are being added it promises to soon become a truly representative moot of all international sports which may in turn spell an important turning in the international Olympics movement since the onus would then shift from athletic events to team or other “game” events.
The Olympic Movement which has been launched to inculcate harmony and good will amongst the comity of nations through sports has been passing through a turbulent phase during the last 16 years as one Olympic games after the other was boycotted by some bloc or the other, thus denting the very credibility of the entire foundation upon which the movement stands. In fact most observers felt that this phase of rickety existence for the Olympics was even more dangerous to the initial aims of the Games than the period during the World War eras when one Olympic was held in Nazi Germany and another had to be cancelled due to the turbulent leaning of the then international political configurations.
While in that era the rift was clear, well defined and obvious for all to see the rift in recent years has been more sublime in appearance though not in intensity with the two superpowers of the world, the USA and the USSR who also happen to be the sporting superpowers of the world opting to stay away from the games on one political pretext or the other. The problem was deepened since on coach occasion the superpowers instigated their supporting countries to also boycott the games, this created a near deadlock situation with the two superpowers taking turns in boycotting the Olympics.
The problem was further deepened when the Moscow Olympics was boycotted by the USA and its friends and in retaliation the Los Angeles games were shunned by the Soviet bloc. While the 1988 Seoul Olympics were still on the drawing board stage sceptics started doubting the health of the games once again. Their worst fears came true when North Korea objected that since the games had been awarded to Korea they too should have a share of the event with South Korea. This was a political move which threatened to jeopardies the entire Olympics movement since a North Korean boycott (it was feared) could have triggered a Soviet retreat from participation which would have further deepened the already deep rift between the different Olympic countries.
However, it is indeed heartening to note that the Soviet did not deem it proper to press the matter beyond the limits and despite the existing political rift between the two Koreas it has now been affirmed that not only will the Olympics be contested as planned but the Soviets will also be coming.
At long last the ruling politicians of the world have decided that politics and sports are separate commodities and should be treated as such.
The Soul Olympics will feature the top sporting sides of the world contesting in full force after a long time and this will add much to the sporting glamour of the events since the lovers of sports would now get an opportunity to guage the relative merits of the athletes from the different countries at ‘one platform and thus evaluate their relative skills and talents.
The Olympics are now round the corner. One hopes that everything goes as per planned and a precedent is formed and accepted at Seoul by the powers that are to keep sports free of politics, Politics, in the past, have done much harm to sports. Now it is time to give sports a chance to do some good to politics.
Article extracted from this publication >> February 26, 1988