12-18 August 2016 #821

An Olympian moment

Nepalis need to really believe that sports can make a positive contribution to the development of youth and the quality of life
Rabi Rajkarnikar

Nepal Olympic Committee

The Games of the XXXI Olympiad are underway in Rio de Janeiro, and nations eagerly await the moment when they can savour the pride that comes with seeing their athletes sparkle, shine and carve their names in the history books. 

Some go on to become legends, inspiring whole new generations of youth to one day realise their own dreams to compete at the ultimate sports platform on earth.

Sport is a unique and indispensable tool for a country’s development, as well as a means to promote peace, culture and education. In particular, it provides young people with hope.

Nepal's legitimacy in the Olympic Movement depends on it upholding the highest standards of ethical behaviour and good governance. All members of the Nepal Olympic Committee (NOC) must adopt, as their minimum standard, the Basic Universal Principles of Good Governance of the Olympic Movement.

Otherwise, we will continue to be exposed to public criticism when the NOC sends more officials than athletes to the games. Such behaviour seriously undermines any NOC-defined mission, and the selection of the athletes is also compromised.

So why is it that we in Nepal have thus far not been able to foster this shared vision that the world has so positively embraced?  Is it because most Nepalis do not really believe that sports can make a positive contribution to the development of youth and the quality of life? 

Sports is never neutral. It can teach values and ethical behavior, or not. It can help people develop a positive self-image and respect for others, or not. It can strengthen community life, or not.

Millions of people around the world practice sports as a healthy pastime, or for the sheer fun of it. Sports can bring people together, foster friendship, reinforce healthy lifestyles, and build civic pride and community participation. Or it can be about violence, drugs, cheating, match fixing, and winning at any cost.

This is why it is essential — more so now than ever before — to actively support positive values in sports, in simple and powerful ways. This is everyone’s responsibility, especially those associated with colleges, sports clubs, National Federations, National Sports Council and, most importantly, the NOC.   

Modern Olympism places ‘sport at the service of the harmonious development of humankind, with a view to promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity’, as stated in the Olympic Charter.

This week in Brazil, seven Nepali athletes — three men and four women, including the youngest athlete participating in the Rio Olympic Games — are representing our country, making us proud. We stand equal with all participating nations from the five continents, symbolised by the five interlaced rings of the Games.

The intangible benefit of being part of this Olympic Movement is that it inculcates a way of life based on the joy of effort, the value of good example, and social responsibility. It also fosters respect for mutual understanding, and the spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.  

The Olympic Movement's three core values are Excellence, Friendship and Respect.

Excellence refers to giving one’s best, either on the playing field or in life. It is not only about winning, but also participating, making progress in personal goals and striving to do our best.

Friendship encourages links and mutual understanding between people, and building a peaceful and better world through solidarity, team spirit, joy and optimism. The Olympic Games inspire people to overcome political, economic, gender, racial or religious differences, and to forge friendships in spite of those differences.  

Respect includes respect for oneself and one’s body, respect for one another, for the rules as well as for the environment. It refers to the attitude of fair play that athletes should have, and to a commitment to avoid doping.

The following principles of Olympism amplify the core values and allow them to be expressed in a way that drives far-reaching social change, which is where Nepal needs to focus:

  • Non-discrimination: The Olympic Movement strives to ensure that sports is practised without any form of discrimination. 

  • Sustainability: The Olympic Movement organises and delivers programs in a way that promotes sustainable economic, social and environmental development. 

  • Humanism: The Olympic Movement places human beings at the centre, ensuring that sports remains a human right. 

  • Universality: Sports belongs to everyone, and the Olympic Movement takes into account the universal impact it can have on individuals and society. 

  • Solidarity: Developing programs that create a meaningful and comprehensive social response to issues within the Olympic Movement's sphere of influence. 

  • Alliance between sport, education and culture: Commitment to promoting the spirit of Olympism at the convergence of sport, culture and education.   

Rabi Rajkarnikar is a MEMOSIAN (Master Exécutif en Management des Organisations Sportives)

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