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Should the US Boycott the 2014 Summer Olympics?

1984: Mary Lou Retton of the United States in action on the balance beam during the Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, California. Mandatory Credit: Steve Powell /Allsport

The Russian government is contemplating giving Edward Snowden asylum in Russia while the US works to extradite him on charges of releasing classified information. As a result, many Americans feel we should boycott the upcoming 2014 Summer Olympics scheduled in Sochi, Russia.

There are two schools of thought on this topic. Many feel politics have far too much influence and intrusion into the Olympic games as it is. Others feel that the world needs to witness our resolve in having Snowden returned to the United States.

The 1980 Olympic Boycott

In 1980 President Jimmie Carter issued a boycott of American athletes in the 1980 games unless Russia, who was hosting the games, withdrew its invading forces from Afghanistan. Russia did not withdraw and as a result, sixty-five countries, including the USA, did not participate in the 80 games. While many did support the boycott others bowed out citing economic reasons.

The 1984 Olympic Boycott

In retaliation to the 1980 boycott Russia and 14 other eastern bloc countries decided not to participate in the 84 games held in Los Angeles. Other countries joining the boycott later were East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Hungry and Cuba.

China, which usually supports Russia, decided to participate in the 1984 games pitting the best gymnasts of the world against Mary Lou Retton and the US team. Ironically, Afghanistan decided to boycott the games in LA as well.

The Olympic Athletes

To reach the point of even being considered to compete in the Summer Olympics takes a lifetime of dedication and sacrifice. The average person has no idea how much time and training go into preparing an Olympic athlete for competition on the world stage. Not being able to compete in the biggest event in your sport would be an overwhelming psychological blow to many dedicated athletes. For many this might be their last opportunity for a medal.

The Politics of The Olympics

The Olympic Game’s have always been a hotbed of controversy. Everything from questionable judging, to suspicious timekeeping, to discrimination to actual deaths of the athletes, as in Munich, has made world headlines. It seemed everyone was under the thumb of the Olympic Organizing Committee and their word is law.

Some Final Thoughts

If you don’t tear up a little when you hear the National Anthem and watch our flag being raised at the medal ceremonies then I believe you are missing everything America stands for.

You are witnessing a body of work that has resulted in the highest level of excellence as a representative of your country. It’s a pretty big deal. The pressure is enormous. There are no do-overs. There are no second chances. You get one shot after a lifetime of preparation.

If only we all used this kind of dedication in our education, our daily lives, our families, what an amazing world we would have. My opinion is — let them compete. Find some other way of making your intentions known to Russia. Don’t use these amazing role models as pawns in some playground dispute. Aren’t we bigger than that? Isn’t our country bigger than that? What’s your opinion?

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