Archie Bland: It's time we enforced the real spirit of the Games

FreeView from the editors at i

Share

The Olympics, those who fete the Games are forever telling us, are not just about athletic triumph: the Olympic ideal means something more.

The promotional videos for each Games feature not just victorious titans brandishing their medals, but smiling children, sporting losers, communities regenerated. The suggestion is that sport can mean something more than a simple calculus of victory and defeat.

That suggestion was ignored, not so long ago, by the flagrant fatcats of Formula One, who took their grotesque roadshow to Bahrain without batting an eyelid. The Olympics, you would hope, would be different when it comes to Syria.

The very precept on which the modern Olympics were founded – that "the important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle" – seems to shudder at the prospect: in Syria, after all, the struggle is only worthwhile if it leads to triumph. Anything but victory could mean death at the hands of Bashar al-Assad's thugs.

Yes, sport stands apart from politics; but that's not to say those running the Games have a right to ignore the political and humanitarian consequences of what they decide. And happily, there does seem to be a recognition already that letting Assad's cronies into London would be a disastrous idea, giving him helpful domestic publicity and imbuing his opponents with a sense that their suffering counts for nothing in the eyes of the west.

They are still not doing enough. In the days since General Mofwaq Joumaa, president of the Syrian National Olympic Committee, declared his intention to attend the Games, the widespread agreement that officials should be excluded if they have any connection to the regime has not extended to the status of the athletes themselves. In truth, though, while the presence of officials connected to the regime would be an insult to Assad's victims, the athletes are the far more prominent of those slated to attend.

It is true, at least, that no Syrian seems to be in with a shout of a medal, so we should be spared the ugliness of seeing the flag raised to Assad's national anthem. It seems a little unfair to blame the athletes themselves, with no suggestion that any of them has been involved in the atrocities that have taken place.

Excluding them altogether would perhaps seem a merely symbolic gesture. But while Russia blocks any more forceful Security Council resolution, symbols are all we have.

As things stand, Assad's flag is to be paraded around a stadium in London in 58 days' time. How can that be in keeping with the spirit that is supposed to make these Games great?

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Support Worker

£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: A rewarding opportunity to work with an easy-...

Recruitment Genius: National Sales Account Executive

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company leads the market i...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Manager - Cyber Security

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Manager for Cyber Secur...

Ashdown Group: Service Desk Analyst - Application Support - Central London

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Service Desk Analyst (App...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Ice skating in George Square, Glasgow  

How many Christmas cards have you sent this year?

Simon Kelner
 

Al-Sweady Inquiry: An exercise in greed that blights the lives of brave soldiers

Richard Kemp
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum