Beijing Paralympic Opening Ceremony

What I was talking about here a few weeks ago, about competition being a unifying phenomenon, seems to suddenly now have an added resonance. I just caught up with the winter paralympic opening ceremony. In it, IPC president Andrew Parsons made an unusually emotive, political speech condemning what is currently happening in Ukraine. “I want – I must – begin with a message of peace as the leader of our organisation. I am horrified at what is taking place in the world right now. The 21st century is a time for dialogue and diplomacy, not war and hate.” He continued “The Olympic Truce for peace during the Olympic and Paralympic Games is a UN resolution. It must be respected and observed, not violated. At the IPC we aspire to a better and more inclusive growth, free from discrimination, free from hate, free from ignorance, and free from conflict.”* This is clearly a reference to the increasingly bloody, disturbing images coming from places like Kyiv. What is going on there is the categorical opposite of the spirit of unity events like the olympics aim to foster. We should be coming together to compete and play, not murdering one another.

After all, Kyiv is a city full of ordinary people, just like London, Paris or Beijing; it might even host it’s own olympics one day. People there should be going about their lives as usual. Yet instead, it’s currently being bombed to bits by a hostile, arrogant neighbour with no respect for international law. Thus I’m glad that Parsons used his speech to comment about what is going on, and to express the revolt all of us are feeling. I’m also pleased to see that, in the end, Russian athletes were prevented from competing. While they may have been personally innocent and have no connection to the war, what the country they represent is doing is unacceptable and cannot be tolerated in any way. The world does not and can not accept aggressive, hostile states into it’s fold.

*Quotes lifted from this Guardian article.

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