Friday saw the official opening ceremony of the 2016 Rio Olympic games; a jovial, bright celebration to begin two weeks of sport within a country facing social and economic turbulence. The games have been met with riots from those who think the games should not be taking place in a city plagued by recession but not all haven taken this stance. Many in Rio and the rest of the country have looked forward to the games with a great deal of excitement.
However the same can not be said here. No doubt many have looked forward to the Olympics, in spite of the doping scandal and concern over hygiene and logistical problems Rio have encountered, that are in fact inevitable with such a large scale event. What is staggeringly noticeable is how underwhelming the kick-off of the games has been in comparison with London 2012. Of course this was bound to be the case, as it is nowhere near as close to home. But I still can not help feeling extremely disappointed at the lack of feeling of unity and the swell of pride our country felt at the dawn of our Olympics. Even those of us who would usually abhor having to watch sport in any context found ourselves devouring any sport, all sport! Things we had never heard of and would never take an interest in again, we were watching: cheering and being overcome with joy when our country did well, and coming close to tears when we narrowly missed our chance at victory.
2012 was a huge success; even those who had been cynical in the run up couldn’t help enjoying the buzz that came with the games, and people became significantly friendlier as we all experienced at the same time great levels of euphoria, induced by an event which touched a nation regardless of a fraught lead up. 2016 has come into play all but unnoticed within our country, and all of the feeling of excitement has gone from the event. People won’t shout emphatically at some particularly gripping dressage, or sit weeping and crestfallen in front of our televisions when team GB loses a game of badminton. Hosting the Olympics in our country changed the way we experienced sport for the duration of the games and for a period after. We enjoyed a fruitful legacy and were wholly inspired by the men and women who took part, and young and old came together to get behind them. That attitude will be greatly missed for many now that they have experienced it once and won’t do again for a long time (if ever in some cases) until we are lucky enough to encounter a London games again.
Perhaps the best way to try and re-capture that feeling, even if only in a small, meagre sense, would be to try and once again get behind our country’s athletes – those who we have met before and grown to love and those who are new to the Olympics. This way, even if it’s not on the same level, we could experience again what we did four years ago, and support our athletes together, as one nation. I hope the next couple of weeks prove successful for the men and women who have trained so hard to get where they are; good luck team GB!