Olympics – Game of Respect, Unity & Inclusion.

by | Sep 5, 2016 | BD Voice | 0 comments


Since the Rio Olympics began, we have been glued to the television cheering for the athletes. The opening ceremony was spectacular with the message from IOC President Thomas Bach resounding in my ears – “Olympics will send a message of unity, respect and tolerance to the world.”. At a time when divisions between different peoples and countries seem ever more apparent, the Rio 2016 Olympic Games was an important reminder of the hopes and dreams that we all have in common. When more than 11,000 athletes from 206 countries around the world come together, great things happen.

There are so many stories of hope and cheer. For the first time, 10 refugee athletes from four countries competed together as the Refugee Olympic Team. Their athletic prowess and resilience is a tribute to the courage and perseverance of all refugees – at a time when the number of people displaced by violence and persecution is at the highest level since the Second World War.

This year featured the most female Olympians ever—with 42% of ALL participants being women. India’s two medal winners were women. PV Sindhu won silver in badminton and Sakshi Malik clinched a bronze in wrestling. A third female athlete – Dipa Karmakar, could not win a medal but won many hearts with her stellar performance in Gymnastics – the first Indian qualifying for finals. This trio’s achievements came against odds far greater than any faced by their male counterparts, given India’s deeply entrenched biases against girls.

Simone Manuel became the first African-American woman to win an individual Olympic gold. The veteran athletes like cyclist Kristin Armstrong, who won her third Olympic gold medal the day before her 43rd birthday, which gave new meaning to the phrase “women of a certain age.”. Kimia Alizadeh became the first Iranian woman ever to win an Olympic medal in Taekwondo while wearing her traditional headscarf.

The photograph of Egyptian Doaa Elghobashy going up the volleyball net against zithromax buy online generic German Kira Walkenhorst was published on sites and newspapers all over the world. Less for the game than for the image itself. While the German wore a bikini, a common outfit for the sport, the Egyptian wore long pants and a \”hijab\”. \”I\’ve been wearing a \’hijab\’ for ten years. It doesn\’t prevent me from doing the things that I love, and beach volleyball is one of them\”, declared Elghobashy, 19, right after the game against Germany. Atta Girl! We define ourselves with our actions and not by what we wear.(I wish the French Govt  would take few lessons from this feisty girl & letting women decide for themselves what to wear on beach rather than banning burkini.)

 Despite all these accomplishments and moments of great hope, I still cringed when I heard the “sexist” comments being passed by the media during the games. The Chicago Tribune did not initially include American trap shooter Corey Cogdell-Unrein’s name in its headline after her bronze medal win, opting for \”Wife of a Bears’ lineman wins a bronze medal today in Rio Olympics.” People Magazine called Simone Biles “the Michael Jordan of gymnastics. Credits and praises were showered on coach/husband of Hungarian swimmer Katinka Hosszu for being “responsible” for her win.

But as I saw people calling these out on social media, it gave me hope. I realized that these types of comments would no longer be tolerated or passed on as usual. I hoped that these comments are not actual overtly sexism but unconscious bias, and there’s a difference. In the latter, there’s room to educate and to improve.

While we were glued to television on 14th August watching Dipa Karmakar taking that gigantic leap – my son jumped up and shouted “Go Dipa Go”…my heart also took a leap of faith. Maybe there is actually a chance for us to build a more inclusive & equal world for our future generations.

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