Multifaith Olympics: In Rio, pray wisdom will win

boltThe Olympics Games is sold worldwide as the pristine display of sports talent, passion and dedication. Then comes the news the Rio Olympics has already set a new record. 450,000 condoms will be available to Olympians to avoid the sexual transmission of the Zika virus. What follows is a reflection on wisdom and the power of commitment.

According to The Age (May 16, 2016) 350,000 male condoms and 100,000 female condoms are available along with 175,000 sachets of lubricant, ‘from free dispensing machines in every Olympic village.’ Two Australian companies are providing extras for the Aussies!

We should never make light of a very serious problem. The Zika virus is deadly and every protection should be considered for the Olympians. Some serious scientists even called for the Olympics to be moved from Rio to escape the disease-carrying mosquito but the forecast of sexual activity must disturb every parent with a child competing.

April 16, 2003 ESPN published an article “Will You Still Medal in the Morning.” ( Author Sam Alipour reported: “Many Olympians, past and present, abide by what Summer Sanders, a swimmer who won two gold medals, a silver and a bronze in Barcelona, calls the second Olympic motto: “What happens in the village stays in the village.”

Yet, if you ask enough active and retired athletes often enough to spill their secrets, the village gates will fly open. It quickly becomes clear that, summer or winter, the games go on long after the medal ceremony.

“There’s a lot of sex going on,” says women’s soccer goalkeeper Hope Solo, a gold medalist in 2008. How much sex? “I’d say it’s 70 percent to 75 percent of Olympians,” offers world-record-holding swimmer Ryan Lochte, who will be in London for his third Games. “Hey, sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.”

Rio Carnivale

A CNN report called the Olympic village ‘The Playing Field.’ They wrote: “”Anyone who wants to be naive and say they don’t know what’s going on in the Village are lying to themselves,” one former gold medalist and veteran of two Olympics told CNN of his previous experiences at the Games. “They know, the officials know, even the media. It’s not a secret, everyone knows!” (The Playing Field, August 12, 2012 CNN.

Rio in just a few weeks, will showcase its Carnivale flair. Street musicians and dancers have been rehearsing for both the opening and closing ceremonies. “Let the Games begin!” will launch a new extravaganza. New champions will be crowned. Losers consoled.

Australia helped promote the camaraderie.A young Chinese-Australian John Ian Wing proposed change for the closing ceremony at the Olympics in Melbourne, 1956. In previous Olympiads the opening and closing ceremonies were similar in structure. Wing proposed the athletes be allowed to mingle and mix together in a show of fellowship. That initiative launched in Melbourne has been a memorable highlight ever since and it is a joyous, festive addition.

In the deepest darkness we can be sure light will shine. In London 2012, United States gymnast Gabby Douglas won gold. Then just sixteen Douglas said her faith helped her cope with the pressures of competing on the world stage.”Let all that I am praise the LORD; may I never forget the good things he does for me,” she tweeted after she won the all around gold medal.

She was the first African-American to win gold in the all around competition. Former Olympian Dominique Dawes was in tears after the victory. Asked what advice she had for Douglas Dawes said, “Keep God number one in your life….Keep him first and foremost and only be guided by him.”

Eric Liddell

The Eric Liddell story was told in the movie ‘Chariots of Fire.’ In the movie he says, “… I believe God made me for a purpose … He also made me fast. When I run I can feel His pleasure.” The son of missionary parents, he died in a POW camp in 1945.

Allison Felix, the daughter of an ordained minister was an American gold medalist. She won gold and two silver medals at the 2012 Olympics. She also won three world championship gold medals. At the height of her success she said: “For me, my faith is the reason I run. I definitely feel I have this amazing gift that God has blessed me with, and it’s all about using it to the best of my ability.”

Jesse Owens won four gold medals at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Adolph Hitler staged the event as propaganda venture. Owens said: “Only by God’s grace have I made it to see today and only by God’s grace will I see tomorrow.” His modern counterpart Usain Bolt said, “I want to thank GOD for everything he as done for me cause without him none of this would be possible.”

Betty Cuthbert

Years ago as a young enthusiastic WINTV sports commentator I was thrilled to interview, on more than one occasion, Australian track star Betty Cuthbert. In her testimony she wrote: “It’s funny looking back at everything. I was never fanatical about running – never had any heroes or anything – it all just happened.”

Eighteen months before the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, I spent most of my savings buying a spectator ticket for myself. I wasn’t expecting to run in those Olympics. I wasn’t even rated in the world’s top 15 in the 100 metres at the beginning of 1956. Then I broke Marjorie Jackson’s world record for the 200 metres.”

“In Melbourne, aged 18, I won the 100 meters, 200 metres and another gold medal as part of the 4×100 relay team. One of my favourite verses is Isaiah 40:31, which was given to me by my grandmother just before I ran in Melbourne. ‘But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will be strong like eagles soaring upward on wings; they will walk and run without getting tired.'”

Later Betty developed multiple sclerosis and even then she remained a champion. I love what she wrote: “Many people think that Christians are a bit “loopy.” I don’t mind that but I wish they would take the time to find out what it all means. For me, it means renewing the mind – replacing old values with the concepts of God as revealed in the Bible.”

Well said Betty. When it comes to values, for me ‘the shield of faith’ is the best protection of all.
Ron Ross

Ron Ross is a Middle East consultant for United Christian Broadcasters (Vision FM). Previously he was radio news editor for Bridges for Peace in Jerusalem, Israel.





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