Why an athlete must participate in the Olympics

Many athletes of all nationalities will not participate in the Tokyo Olympics, the reason most often given is that of injury and for some this is the best justification to hide their disinterest in this event and, in this edition, also the annoyance for the limits imposed by the pandemic.

Everyone is obviously free to make their own decisions, so in my opinion individual decisions are not debatable. However, I am equally convinced that it is important to understand what sport represents in our society and what is the road and the path of the sport movement that every athlete has to travel for the stretch corresponding to the period of his or her sporting life.

The road of the sport movement has limits and negatives like any other human activity. Nonetheless, sport is culture and, together with school education and the arts, it participates in the development and maturation of human beings throughout their lives. It has been so since the time of the Greek Olympics and the excellence that is pursued was already defined by Aristotle with these words: “We are what we constantly do. Excellence therefore is not an act but a habit.” A concept very similar to what is demonstrated today by research in sports psychology. In addition, the introduction of new sports to the Olympics comes from the interest of wanting to continue to keep young people interested in this event. Free climbing, surfing and in the future esports represent the realization of this motivation.

In terms of economic return is not an event comparable to what you get in other sports by participating even just in a tournament, who participates should be the bearer of values that go beyond this factor. Sport at international level also hides many pitfalls, first of all doping and drug abuse, and on this subject I published years ago a book entitled “The Lords of the Pitfalls”. Beyond these illegal and economic limits, sport is still an exceptional transmitter of values and positive practices. The responsibility of the best-known athletes is precisely to use this impact on the younger generation and their peers to believe in these values as the foundation of their lives. For this reason, one cannot refuse to participate in the Olympics.

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