Olympic Games: 16 Days of Pure Magic

More than any other event on the planet, the Olympics are a time of hope and celebration for humankind.

No event can match the Olympic Games, and we’re not just talking about sports tournaments. Consider this: more than 10,000 athletes, the best in their respective fields, representing 205 nations throughout the globe, all competing in one city, using the very best facilities. Add thousands of cheering, emotional spectators - not to mention billions more watching from afar, hoping, admiring, crossing fingers and sometimes being heartbroken. Mix in ambition, dreams, touching human stories, tradition and eternal glory for the winners. The result will still fall short of the deep significance of the Olympic Games.

The Olympics are always more than the sum of the athletes, spectators, races, weights, balls, pools or arenas. Much more than the 26 different sports, 900 medals and thousands of competitors. The sum is way larger than its numerous parts.

All these add up to something that causes a magical sensation of a better world. The extra ingredient is pure passion and unconditional love - even in an era of professional sports. Even the tag, the Olympic Games, alludes to something so appealing and naïve, something that differentiates humans from all other living creatures.

The Games create a natural, simple unity among human beings, one that every sensible person dreams and yearns for in our world. It includes excellence - physical, mental and human - of the most noble nature. And you don’t even have to win a medal in order to stand out. History will remember Gabriela Andersen-Schiess, who literally crawled to the finish line, more than any medal winner from that marathon at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.

And the world watches, fascinated: while half the planet’s population has no idea what all the fuss is over soccer’s world cups, the Olympic Games magic is self-evident. Even those who usually have no interest in sport are seduced by its spell.

This applies to Israel as well. This year’s delegation seems to be the most talented ever, hoping to continue the tradition of the past 20 years – securing a “blue and white” medal, or even more than one. The delegation includes men and woman; young and relatively older athletes; Israeli-born and new immigrants; black and white (but, unfortunately, no Arab representatives). They’re all ours, and deserve our wholehearted support. The Israeli team is but one of 205 delegations that, together, represent humanity.

There is concern about inevitable traffic congestion in London, organizational chaos, possible terror attacks, the English rain - things that might alter locations or cause schedule delays. Organizers, athletes and viewers all fear some calamity, but dark prophecies concerning huge sports events could probably feature as an event in itself. The Olympic Games represent, first and foremost, the concept of hope, so one is allowed to hope that nothing will go wrong.

In ancient Greece, an Olympic Truce was declared and was strictly adhered to. Armies were forbidden to embark on military action during the Games; legal conflicts were postponed; death sentences annulled. We can but hope that this tradition will be kept during the modern Olympics as well. Terrorists, tyrants, and hysterical politicians and leaders can all learn a lesson from ancient Greece. There is no need to declare an Olympic Truce, but merely implement it. Humanity needs these 16 days of joy and magic every four years. Don’t break the spell.