What a two weeks that was. If you’ve been living under a rock or simply just turned the TV off in protest, you missed quite the spectacle at the Rio Olympic Games for both good and bad reasons.
Heading into the Games, there was much speculation about the atrocity that they would inevitably become. There were the security issues, the obsolete amount of running water and, of course, who can forget about the countless reports that berated the fact that the venues wouldn’t be fully completed before the Games took place. This five-ring circus was supposed to be just that: an absolute catastrophe.
And, in some ways, it definitely was. For starters, the Rio Games will always or should always have an asterisk next to its place in history since the International Olympic Committee allowed Russian athletes to compete in the Games after the well-documented reports of the state-sponsored doping scandal they utilized in the 2014 Sochi Games. Add onto this the state of Brazil’s economy, which is currently in its worst recession since the 1930s, which will likely garner no long-term benefit from hosting the Games in the many of the ways that are hoped for. Of course, we’re never going to forget the diving pools that had their water turn from aqua blue to emerald green inexplicably in a matter of days. Those narratives will surely last beyond the Games’ existence into the future.
But in a lot of other ways, this year’s Olympics personified the awesomeness of patriotic nostalgia that will last two more years until Canada competes at the 2018 Winter Olympics. Some of the storylines that manifested themselves over the last 14 odd days provided ample reason to be a proud Canadian. Start with 16-year-old Penny Oleksiak. Think about what you were doing in your final month of summer as a 16 year old. I know I wasn’t even old enough to be driving a car by myself at the time and I’m absolutely certain I wasn’t making my way back from a trip to Brazil with four Olympic medals around my neck.
Or maybe you can think about the bromance that developed between Canada’s Andre De Grasse and fastest-man-of-all-time Usain Bolt, smiling at each other like kids on the playground as they finished the semi-finals of the 200-metre race. If you’re a sports fanatic, maybe the moment for you was Michael Phelps making the triumphant return from near suicide to win his 28th medal in Olympic competition. Take your pick; each emitted a smile from people around the world reminiscent of accomplishing the un-accomplishable.
In reality, the problem we have as a society with reviewing things like the Olympics is that it’s placed in a win-or-lose proposition. It’s either black or white; disastrous or spectacular. Rarely do we spend time on a nuanced position to say that there are both good and bad things to nearly everything in life and that this Olympics is merely just one more representation of that.
Throughout history, this Olympic Games will be regarded by some pundits as a disaster that should be hidden from our memory, with others praising its nostalgia-inducing storylines.
But what if it could be both?