Tue, 26 Sep 2000

The Sydney 2000 Olympics

In commemoration of the opening ceremony of the Atlanta Olympics four years ago, I wrote a small contribution to this column, on having watched on TV the phenomenal spectacle of Parkinson-struck Mohammed Ali holding the torch in his wavering hands and thereby lit successfully the Olympic cauldron. It was a most impressive event.

Then we remembered that at the Atlanta Olympics Indonesia had won one gold, one silver and two bronze. Now at the Sydney Olympics, the tally of medals won by Indonesia comprises one gold, three silver and two bronze.

Australia can take pride in hosting the prestigious Olympic games twice, the first being at Melbourne in 1956.

Imagine that it took 44 years for a country like Australia to play host to the coveted universal sporting event in the culture of humankind. Now Japan seems to be eying to host the Olympic games for the second time.

Why are advanced countries so eager to host the Olympics? The motives are surely not confined to economic and cultural aspects, such as the promotion of tourism, but extend to the political sphere as well, as the highest achievements in the Olympics signify national prestige and grandeur in the field of world sport.

During the decades of the cold war, it was the USSR who traditionally vied for the ranking of gold winners, the supremacy being held continuously by the United States.

As far as Indonesia is concerned, it is noteworthy that since the inception of badminton into the fold of Olympic games at Barcelona in 1992, Indonesia began to participate in the competition for top place in the men's and women's singles and doubles badminton branches against China, South Korea, Denmark and Great Britain.

Fortunately, the economic ailment and the social political unrest that are recently undermining the national image and the mental posture of the country do not bear too heavily upon the achievements in the badminton branches at the Sydney Olympics.

Interestingly, beginning with the Sydney Olympics, Indonesia begins to gain medals, although bronze and silver, in the branch of weightlifting. But it will take a generation for Indonesia to qualify for worthy participation in other branches of the Olympic games, signifying an exquisite performance of world-class standing.

To this end, the upbringing of future cadres, not only of players as such but within the ranks of sport leadership, including qualified coaches, as well is called for, which apparently is being carried on zealously by countries like China and South Korea. Their achievements at Sydney 2000 Olympics bear witness to their efforts and planning at the national level in the field of sport branches catering the Olympic games.