The Olympics is a one-of-a-kind event. The greatest athletes gather to compete, and the world gathers to watch. During this time, unity prevails and countries come together. Folks from all walks of life get the chance to see their country strive for glory.
It should come as no surprise that cultural pride permeates this event. In fact, a vast majority of people say the way their nation performs at the Olympics is important to their national pride. Throughout the Olympic Games, it's easy to see how the struggles and triumphs of these athletes inspire their people.
The positive effects of the Olympics are indescribable, as positive nationalism is put on display and differences are put aside. The spirit of competition and sportsmanship become paramount, and there is no time for hate.
Just how powerful the Olympics is can be seen in what recent host countries have accomplished by holding the event.
2008 Beijing Olympics — China's Chance to Shine
In 2008, the Olympic Games headed east to the Middle Kingdom. China, with its booming economy and storied culture, viewed the event as an opportunity to show the world it is indeed a rising global power and gain greater international recognition. Not only did China win the gold medal count, the city also enjoyed economic benefits both before and after the event. Thanks to a $40 billion infrastructure investment and opening up to tourism and international business, it's estimated the Olympics have brought a 2.5 percent annual increase in economic growth to Beijing since 2002. Though human rights issues were voiced throughout the event, most Chinese polled said they were happy with the nation's direction following the games, making it clear the benefits hosting the Olympics has for a nation — especially one that is emerging on the world stage.
2012 London Olympics — Britain Is Not Falling
Before the 2012 Olympics, largely due to the global recession, Britain was being depicted as a receding power. The world was told the sun was setting on the British empire. Then, the Olympics happened. And all the troubles the country had been experiencing were suddenly forgotten — and the people remembered they had a right to be proud. From the displays of traditional symbols of British identity to the modern showcasing of the country's diverse peoples, Great Britain used the Olympics to redefine itself and its future. The result: While 73 percent of British citizens expressed cynicism about the games before the opening ceremony, roughly 75 percent became convinced the London Games were the best ever by the time the event was over.
2016 Rio Olympics — Brazil Can Do It Too
The world heard stories of the Brazilian economy and crime before the games began. It was as if the event was doomed from the start. However, the opening ceremony on Aug. 5, 2016, made it clear that Rio de Janeiro could put on a show. In the words of IOC president Thomas Boch, "The first-ever Olympic Games in South America will go from Brazil to the entire world ... all Brazilians can be very proud tonight." The ceremony, which depicted the rich culture and history of Brazil, stunned attendees and viewers as the story of this unique South American nation was performed in exquisite fashion. Brazil's athletes, with a respectable medal count and gold from the men's soccer team, also gave their country a reason to be unified and strong. Despite the issues, Brazil was a tremendous host, and that will undoubtedly leave its people proud and hopeful.
As the Olympic Games continue and other countries get a chance to host, the world will continue to see how this event deepens cultural pride. The power of the Olympics is real, and the positive effects will be felt wherever the games go.
2020 Olympics - Japan Aims to Impress
With the 2016 Rio Olympics at a close, all eyes turn to Japan for the 2020 Olympics. Viewers may have noticed that Japan is already poised to impress based on the surprise appearance their Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe just made at Rio's closing ceremonies. Sources also say Abe is already focused on making sure the 2020 Olympics lend both a psychological boost to the Japanese culture and an economic boost to its economy.
Do you plan to visit Japan to catch the 2020 Olympics in person? Check out our blog post of eight tips for international travelers for making the most of their stays in Japan.