Yesterday, I commented on the relationship I see between the Olympic games and politics. This commentary was composed while watching the IOC president's speech during the US network broadcast of the Beijing closing ceremonies, and after further reflection, what I said really says more about how politics seizes on the Olympics than the other way around.
I admire the athletes, deeply, and marvel at what they can do. They are the epitome of talent honed by hard work and dedication. Only the barest portion of them can take home medals, but every national team member at the games is one the absolute best at what they do, in the world.
As far as I know, every nation takes fierce pride in their competitors. There are some few Olympians, such as Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt, that capture the attention of the world at large. They are, unfortunately, the exceptions.
The Olympics, like Christmas, are unifying in the abstract, and for the short term. Only the true believer holds on to the positive effect of either for longer than a few weeks. There is less division in this than I gave credence to in my off the cuff post last night, but there is far less unity than the media or the denizens of the Olympic movement would have us believe.