The 2022 Winter Olympics are in full swing in Beijing. Athletes from all over the world arrived in China to compete in the most intense competition in winter sports.
When I decided to write a blog post about the Olympics, my first intention was to drag out that tired old adage about how the Olympics brings countrymen and women together despite their differences to root for their home team; how we all put aside politics and social disagreements and religious polarities and become Americans cheering for Americans.
Then I actually sat down to watch some of the events.
I watched the ski jump and listened as the announcers discussed each athlete's story: where they were from, where they trained, anecdotes about their lives. One thing jumped out at me. Many of these athletes didn't train in their home countries. In some cases, they hadn't lived in the country they represent for years. One athlete from America trains in Norway, lives in Norway, and even has fellow competitors (Norwegian skiers) as roommates. Countless foreign athletes also live and train here in the United States. As an athlete, you want the best training facilities, the best coaches, the best opportunities, regardless of which country they are in, right?
The official Olympic rules state that in order to represent a country in the Olympics, the athlete must hold citizenship in that country. That athlete doesn't have to live in that country; they just have to hold citizenship there.
So, in my household we still root for the athletes with the American flag on their uniforms, but I now see those athletes as more than just representatives of my country. I see them as representatives of a world where people from all nationalities live and work together to encourage each other, to push each other to be better and greater. And shouldn't that the goal of all of us?