As the world gathers in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from August 5-21, to celebrate another milestone in the Olympic history, it is important that those who have had the benefit of Olympic education enlighten others of the key benefits of participating in the games.
The Summer Games in Rio will also involve the Paralympic Games, to recognize the ability of those who are physically disabled.
Unlike any other competition, participating in the Olympic Games is not based on how well a country did in the previous Olympics, which is held every four years.
For example, Liberia has participated in the Olympic Games since 1954, when the late Professor Joseph Namah led a team of Liberians to represent Liberia in Melbourne, Australia. Although since then Liberia has sent representatives to the four-year festival, not much tangible success in winning medals has been realized, save for the spirited performance of (Dr.) Grace Ann Dinkins in the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games.
Yet, Liberia is always at the Olympic Games –not yet for the Paralympic Games. Some attempts were made years ago to organize the Liberia National Paralympic Committee but the advent of the civil-war snuffed the effort. And the need is waiting to be filled in.
The Paralympic Games is a major international multi-sport event, involving athletes with a range of physical disabilities, including impaired muscle power (e.g. paraplegia and quadriplegia, muscular dystrophy, post-polio syndrome, spinal bifida), impaired passive range of movement, limb deficiency (e.g. amputation or dyslexia), leg length difference, short stature, hypertonia, ataxia, athetosis, vision impairment and intellectual impairment.
Brazilian Ambassador to Liberia Luiz dos Santos told the Daily Observer in an interview that the Paralympic Games would be celebrated with pomp and pageantry to express Brazilians and the world’s appreciation to those who are physically challenged.
There are winter and summer Paralympic Games, which since the 1988 Summer Games in Seoul, South Korea, are held almost immediately following the respective Olympic Games. All Paralympic Games are governed by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC).
Meanwhile the following are five main universal principles that govern the celebration of the four-year Olympic Games:
JOY OF EFFORT
Young people develop and practice physical, behavioral and intellectual skills by challenging themselves and each other in physical activities, movement, games and sport.
Fair play is a sports concept, but it is applied worldwide today in many different ways. Learning fair play behavior in sport can lead to the development and reinforcement of fair play behavior in the community and in life.
RESPECT FOR OTHERS
When young people who live in a multicultural world learn to accept and respect diversity, and practice personal peaceful behavior, they promote peace and international understanding.
PURSUIT OF EXCELLENCE
A focus on excellence can help young people to make positive, healthy choices, and strive to become the best that they can be in whatever they do.
BALANCE BETWEEN BODY, WILL AND MIND
Learning takes place in the whole body, not just in the mind, and physical literacy and learning through movement contribute to the development of both moral and intellectual learning.
So there you have the basic principles, and the various sports federations and associations must add the above principles as part of their agenda as they are adequately supported by the Liberian government to develop athletes at home and abroad for their participation at the Olympic Games.