much like every other sporting event, i’m not interested in following the olympics at all. the olympics as an institution, however, is a little more interesting. but its alleged purpose has always puzzled me. the olympic movement’s philosophy is that by bringing together the nations to compete together in sporting competitions, it will help foster mutual understanding among different people of the world. my impression, however, is that sports competitions, especially international competition where teams are identified by country, tends to do just the opposite. it brings out a lot of crass nationalism and tends to otherize the people of foreign countries even more. the internationalism that the olympic games are supposed to stand for stands in stark contrast to the nationalism that it brings out when the games are going on.
the contradiction seems to be completely invisible to the olympic organizers and to olympic aficionados, who sometimes parrot the official line about bringing together the world even as they cheer teams solely on the basis of the flag they fly.