Olympic Games serve as opportunity to come together

Amy McNeel

When the Olympics start, I put all other television programs and movies aside. For two weeks, the games are my only true form of entertainment. I love the competition, seeing people make their dreams come true and watching underdogs become victors. Mostly, though, I love watching the opening ceremony and seeing athletes from countries around the world come together. 

This year, in Pyeongchang, South Korea, the opening ceremony was both awe-inspiring and beautiful. It encapsulated the true essence of what today’s Olympic Games are all about. While there are competitions and gold medals, there is also unity. I believe the Olympics are more important today than ever as they are helping to bridge cultural gaps and progress globalization.  

The Olympic Games are not just a competition, but rather an opportunity for cultures and countries to put their differences aside. When the games start, we realize that we are not so different. I think the Olympics humanize us all in a way. We watch athletes who train for years and years, and we see them make mistakes. We see citizens rally behind their country’s flag and people from different corners of the globe sharing a pedestal. In many ways, the Olympics are the ultimate unification of cultures. 

And, while diversity and unity are major themes across the board for the 2018 Winter Games, they are maybe most prominent in the unification of South Korea and North Korea. At the opening ceremony, the two countries marched as one under a united flag and are also playing together in a combined women’s hockey team. As Daniel Kreps of Rolling Stone put it, “The Pyeongchang Olympics have become an olive branch of sorts between the two nations: North Korea leader Kim Jong Un’s sister Kim Yo Jong is attending the event and extended an invitation to South Korean President Moon Jae-in to visit Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea.” While this is a small act in a huge cultural division, it is a step in the right direction that could potentially bridge the gap between two countries divided with magnificent tension.

In the opening ceremony, four Korean artists came together to sing a cover of John Lennon’s “Imagine.” The song, an anthem of hope and peace, beautifully represented the ceremony’s overarching theme of “peace in motion.” Overall, the ceremony was a refreshing reminder that the Olympics are more than a simple competition. 

From watching these Olympics, I have noticed the similarities that I share with people from around the world. While we have different cultures and beliefs, we share interests, work ethic and heart. Today, with so much tension and hurt, it can be easy to let frustrations and differences trump compassion and unison. For the duration of these Olympic games, it’s important to let our differences subside. Our athletes are in Pyeongchang to compete, to represent our country and to further strengthen our global bonds.