Every two years the world convenes in a single destination for international competitions that bring athletes and visitors from every corner of the planet. There is cultural interaction both on the field and in the arena and off that is unparalleled.
For a fortnight thousands of athletes from countries around the globe challenge each other for national and personal pride that concludes on a podium surrounded by cheering crowds in a universal forum that has no borders.
There is pageantry, drama, upsets, disappointment, controversy, surprises and every other element of human drama that permeates daily feats of skill, strength, agility and endurance.
In the end however, it is the sharing; the mingling; the cultural awareness that temporarily suspends political animosities in a pursuit of excellence for the world to see.
It would be naïve to ignore that politics and tragedy have also played a role, but that is more in the realm of governments than the competitors or their throngs of supporters.
Baron Pierre de Coubertin of
Brookes and Coubertin collaborated to revitalize the ancient Greek Olympics which took place in
For travelers, a visit to the ruins at
Witnessing or participating in the electricity of the Olympics is an experience to be savored, but for those with a wanderlust spirit, there are other ways to vicariously relive the moments of victory and defeat, as well as the tragedies and triumphs of history.
Over the past century of the Olympics, there are enough host destinations where travelers can visit numerous sites where the games have taken place. Such excursions may not be a primary reason for a visit, but they often provide a meaningful and delightful diversion.
Baron de Coubertin not only envisioned athletic competition, but the combination of art and the human spirit. The Olympic Museum embraces that philosophy with exhibitions featuring interactive videos, Olympic torches and equipment as well as sculpture and paintings commemorating the games.
(Author’s note: The Olympic Museum in
Though larger than
The first is the 90-meter ski jump which stands on a hillside above the city center. For a heart-pumping view, go to the top and stare down at the landing area. Then tilt your eyes upward. The first thing you will see is a cemetery. Rising above the grave markers is the spire of a church that creates an optical illusion that a successful jump could leave you impaled on its tower.
Next head to the outskirts of town to a place called Igls. Though
How ironic that less than 30 years after World War II, it would be Germans rushing to the rescue of Jewish athletes who had been taken hostage by terrorists who raided the Olympic Village.
Not only does the Olympic complex remain, there is a lovely memorial park beside the stadiums and arenas; a park built from the rubble that was removed after the war.
You see, wherever you travel you may be in proximity of an Olympic experience and it can be a meaningful detour.
As Baron Pierre de Coubertin once said, “The important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle, the essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.”
Peabod is Bob Taylor, owner of Taylored Media Services in
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