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Everyone loves to watch the Olympics. Young, old, women, men, everyone loves to watch the spectacle known as the Olympics. The 2012 Olympics in London were no exception to this rule. Whether the sport was water polo, dressage, or archery; TV sets around the world tune into the sport, stadiums and venues that were packed for all events. The Olympics provide us with a glimpse into other people and how they perceive themselves and what is important to them. A good example is the small island nation of Jamaica. The sport that they excel at in the Olympics is running and specifically the sprints. They won the gold medals in the 100 m dash for men and women. Sprinting is a very important sport in their nation and they train from an early age for sprinting. The larger countries can afford to train athletes in every sport but smaller nations train athletes when they have athletes that can perform at the Olympic level. So smaller nations tend to have teams that are very small and they concentrate in only certain areas of expertise. One nation may concentrate in equestrian events since that is an area that their country has always excelled in. Another nation may excel in archery since they have a history of producing fine archers.
The Olympics have become a major tourist event for any nation that is honored with the opportunity to host the games. Thousands of tourists arrive and spend a significant amount of money while attending the games. From news reporters to fans to judges to athletes the size of the crowds that arrive at the games provide a major boost to any economy. It costs major money as well to host the games since the host nation must build facilities to house the athletes as well as build venues for sports which may not exist at the time they are awarded the right to host the games. The London games are estimated to have cost 11.3 billion pounds for the Brits to host them. It is expected though that by 2017 the Brits will bring in 16.3 billion pounds so they will make a hefty profit of 5 billion pounds. Many nations that re-host games already have facilities in place that only need to be modernized and they can make even better profit margins. The Olympics have long transcended sporting and have become a financial world event as well.
The Olympics also serve a political purpose as well. For many nations this becomes a stage to deliver a message to the world. This was especially true during the Cold War when the US and its allies had pitched battles with their antagonists in the communist bloc countries of the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union believed that victories in those events proved their choice of government was superior to the American way of government and capitalism. This drive to excel provided for some spectacular sports events in which world records were recorded and fans were regaled with extraordinary feats of athletic prowess. There were also the inevitable sad stories prompted by political pressures such as defections, and unfortunately deaths. The 1972 Olympics in Munich were marred by the murder of 11 Israeli athletes and a German police officer by Palestinian terrorists. This moment has never been forgotten by any who were alive during that era and the present-day Olympics security is still shaped by the events of that murderous spree in Bavaria. For the most part the Olympics part in politics has been to present a peaceful kind side to a country. All countries use the Olympics to demonstrate the good qualities of their own traditions.
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Hosting the Olympics can be a major source of national pride for a nation. The host nation traditionally does much better than expected in many venues due to the “home field” effect. We used this to brilliant effect in what has since been called the “miracle on ice” in which the amateur US team beat a veteran Soviet team for the ice hockey gold medal. National pride swelled in the US in response to a win, against all odds, by true underdog amateurs against a seasoned veteran professional team. The competition to bid and win the rights to host the Olympics is fierce and long. Nations may fight for a decade for the right only to lose out in the final round. The winner of the rights to host the games is never a clear cut decision but is based on economies of financial status of a nation, current facilities and new facilities required, infrastructure present and technologies present to host the games at an acceptable level. We all love to watch them and for the nations of the world the Olympics have become a great chance for economic boom.