Sydney: City of Gold
Suter, Keith, Contemporary Review
THIS month Sydney is hosting the largest peacetime event in world history - the Olympic Games. There are nine million ticket holders and a global television audience of well over two billion people. But opinions in Sydney are divided over whether hosting the Games is really such a good idea. Australians love sport but they are sick of all the surrounding corruption and hype, and some are concerned about the economic and social impact of the Games.
The Olympics have always had a mythical element. The original Olympics ran for over a thousand years in ancient Greece. Every four years the games brought together as many as 40,000 spectators, athletes, politicians, cultural figures and merchants. They were a form of worship to honour Zeus and other gods. The merchants also made them a form of trade fair and so there was a financial element even in the original games. The original games were the largest single gathering of Greeks in the ancient world.
These games were not international. Instead, Greek city-states competed only with each other. The Greeks regarded the rest of the world as 'barbarians' and so had no interest in their involvement. Second, there is some debate as to whether all Greek wars stopped during the games. The myth is that all the Greeks stopped their fighting in the higher interests of playing against each other on the field. But it is not clear whether this always happened; the Greeks seem to have maintained some conflicts. Finally, intellectual opinion was divided over the value of the games. Plato, for example, thought that training athletes for the games was of little relevance for the real world of fighting. Interestingly, the debate was over whether the games improved men for war and not whether the culture of war itself was bad. The only connection with a culture of peace was the possibility of a reduction in warfare during the games and not that the games would somehow make for a more peaceful Greek city-state society for the rest of the four year period. Warfare was the norm and the Olympics did not end it.
Baron Pierre de Coubertin added to the ancient Olympic myth. He was the founder of the modem Olympic movement just over a century ago. He said that the games should promote …
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Publication information: Article title: Sydney: City of Gold. Contributors: Suter, Keith - Author. Magazine title: Contemporary Review. Volume: 277. Issue: 1616 Publication date: September 2000. Page number: 166. © 1999 Contemporary Review Company Ltd. COPYRIGHT 2000 Gale Group.
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