The Olympic Games began as a competition between athletes and warriors representing the city-states and kingdoms of Ancient Greece. What made the Olympics a revolutionary and inspiring invention was that for their duration, a truce was called on the field of battle and wars between the participating peoples were literally put on hold until the games concluded.
As a child growing up in the war-torn city of Jerusalem in Israel, the concept of warring nations ceasing hostilities so their top athletes could compete in the spirit of sportsmanship was one I found captivating and incredibly powerful. Despite the events of the 1972 Munich Olympics, when Palestinian terrorists slaughtered 11 members of the Israeli Olympic team, and despite the boycotts of the 1980 and the 1984 games, the Olympics continue to embody the spirit of peace and world unity more than any other global event, athletic or otherwise.
The Olympic Games are an opportunity for citizens and governments around the world to remember that humanity can collectively rise above politics and war, that heroism can be measured by dedication, effort, and perseverance, that sometimes tiny countries can rival global superpowers, and that the achievements of a single individual can have the power to unify their countrymen in hope for peace and new beginnings.