Have you been watching the Olympics? I have to confess to an enduring love of the games. This year’s competition in particular has already satisfied a huge need within me for positive, dare I say uplifting, stories upon which to focus.

While the “grown-ups” of our country are mired in an ugly, bombastic presidential campaign, seeming to be a competition for the most hateful, mean-spirited verbal assaults possible; magnificent, truly gifted young people, exuding national pride, are pushing themselves to the limit. They are exemplifying so many traits to be admired are in quite another competition. These kids and their families have worked their entire lives for a few fleeting moments when the world is watching and all of their training and sacrifice is put on the line.

Dedicated to the Olympic Gods; the first Olympic Games traces back to 770 B.C. For 12 centuries thereafter the games took place on the plains of Olympia. Located on Greece’s Peloponnese Peninsula, Olympia is now an archeologic site open to tourists.

But this year’s Games are being held in and around Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and have not been without drama — serious drama!

There is reported dangerous pollution levels in both the water and the air, escalating crime rates, the country’s economy in recession – resulting in mobs protesting the spending of billions of dollars on the Games when basic services are not being funded, a president suspended from office having been found guilty of budget fraud the day before the opening ceremony and now facing impeachment and the dreaded Zika Virus.

I have to say, I wouldn’t let Rio host a flea circus let alone the Olympics.

Many if not all of the above have led to some competitors from many countries skipping these Olympic Games, fearing for their personal health and wellbeing. Although there have been “doping” scandals, complaints about traffic and Olympic Village structural deficiencies; those choosing to compete seem to be having a ball!

Rio is not the first site selected by the Olympic Committee to experience problems hosting the games.

I have heard that every Olympic host city makes money and then, subsequently, I have heard that every Olympic host city loses money. Like most political processes, proponents profess a boom, opponents profess doom. Yet I think no one can dispute that the obscene expenditures necessary, huge inconveniences to the populace and a selection process ripe for abuses, makes one think that there has to be a better way.

I am not the first to put forth the suggestion that Greece be the permanent home of the Summer Olympics. (Winter Games have to find their own suitable home.) Not only does it make total sense not to reinvent the wheel every four years but there is history and tradition. And perhaps it could even help the floundering Greek economy in the process!

But, no matter where the games are held, no matter what the criticisms, critiques and controversies; when one of our own stands on that gold medal platform and mouths our national anthem before the whole world; I am indeed uplifted, so proud to be an American. 

Wendy J. Levenfeld is a published novelist, playwright and columnist. Send comments to wendylevenfeld@gmail.com. Visit Wendy’s website at www.wendylevenfeld.com.

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