New Olympic motto
The Olympic motto is “Citius, Altius, Fortius” or “faster, higher, stronger.”
It is about time to change it not just because the Latin motto has little to do with the Olympics.
Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the father of the modern Olympics, directly adopted it from a Parisian school, not even bothering to check it with the Greeks, originators of the games.
When the Games of I Olympiad, the official name of the 1896 Summer Games in Athens, Greece, took place, only 241 athletes from 14 countries competed in 43 events in nine sports. It was held in April so perhaps it should have been called the “Spring Games.”
Additional to differing views of historical fact, it seems right to change the motto because it sounds outdated.
Not altering it is tantamount to defying the evolution of the quadrennial games and insisting on adhering to the cloistered thinking and exclusive-club style mentality of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
The IOC, rather the dark aspects of it, is a subject worth many columns from presenting a radical case for its abolition to looking at constructive ways to overhaul it. I will deal with these matters at a later date.
First, let’s consider why changing the motto is necessary.
It is supposed to represent the heart and soul of the games but doesn’t because the current motto only addresses the athletes, encouraging them to do better, and neglects the coming together of the international spectators.
No longer do the games belong to competitors alone. Equally, if not more so, they belong to the spectators who watch them in stadiums but more importantly to the millions of sports fans watching them through television all over the world.
In other words, the Olympic spirit, as we know it, is only possible through the mutual enthusiasm of athletes and spectators with the help of officials.
Regarding this, here is a suggestion for a new Olympic motto: seize the moment, lose gracefully and entertain at all costs.
Carpe diem applies to athletes, spectators and officials and calls on everyone to do their best.
Athletes should do their best in order to run faster, jump higher and be stronger than their opponents.
Such attempts sometimes end up with unexpected results. The odds were stacked against the Korean footballers when they met Great Britain in the quarterfinals. But Team Korea fought hard and won, making it to a first Olympic semifinal in the sport.
Now they are considering how to best handle Brazil and advance beyond all expectations. This is where the Olympic spirit challenges human essence, pushing people to defy preset limits and go one step higher.
Spectators should root for their country’s competitors until their voices are hoarse and their palms are red.
Despite the eight hour time difference between here and London, Koreans cheer as they watch their nation’s athletes on big outdoor screens from midnight to dawn. They jump out of their seats and even embrace strangers when they see a good performance and heave a collective sigh when the other team scores or an event is lost. Moreover, in the end, they unite to applaud athletes irrespective of their country of origin for the wholehearted efforts they make.
Korean judoka Kim Jae-bum and German Ole Bischoff captured that spirit when they fought in the under-81 kilogram division. Bischoff’s gentlemanly conduct after he was defeated was greatly praised. That’s the catharsis of competition in its purest form.
Officials should keep their eyes peeled not to make mistakes. Do we need to talk about this further?
Fencer Shin A-lam was robbed of a medal when a judge made a biased call. What about the changed ruling by judges and a referee following a judo bout? The trio raised blue flags for a Korean judoka one moment and then reversed their decision in the next. Still, we know that occasional officiating errors are part of the games.
Losing gracefully is a must in this multimedia age.
Two former Korean Olympic champions, swimmer Park Tae-hwan and weightlifter Jang Mi-ran, are perfect examples.
Park was looking for back-to-back Olympic titles in the men’s 400 meters freestyle. He was disqualified after a false start but reinstated hours later in what proved to be an emotional roller-coaster ride. He appeared in control and eventually won the silver medal. His aplomb may have gained Park more kudos than if he had won.
Jang didn’t even win a medal but she made a teary farewell statement, “I did my best so I don’t have any regrets.” The media accepted this strong woman’s tears and gave her well-deserved praise.
Yelena Isinbayeva, Russia’s two-time Olympic pole vault champion, brought herself to smile at the cameras, even after she settled for a bronze, ending her bid for a third gold medal. Park, Jang and Isinbayeva all acted gracefully even in defeat.
Usain Bolt, the world’s fastest man who won his second 100-meter title, is “the” entertainer. Spectators are happy not merely because he breaks world records but also because he entertains us with comical expressions and bold gestures. The Jamaican is the life of the party and invites us all to it.
I am not waiting for the IOC to call me anytime to negotiate intellectual property rights for my suggested new Olympic motto. And even if it didn’t, I wouldn’t be upset, but its members should know they would be doing so at their own risk.