The 2016 Olympics Is About Coming Together

by Allie Gemmill

It can be easy to forget just how many people comprise the global population on a daily basis. At the Olympics, we are reminded for a short while (as we are every four years) just how big our world is and just how many different nations there are that come together for the sake of earnest athletic competition. This reminder has never run truer than at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, where for the first time in history the Refugee Olympic Team will be competing.

While Olympic swimmer Yusra Mardini may be the most visible member of the historic 10-member team, it is what the Refugee Olympic Team reminds us in its existence that should be equal parts sobering, inspiring and maybe even a bit tear-inducing. This team is a microcosm of ongoing real world struggles, each member representative of the fact that it is possible to survive fleeing your home country but that, in the end, no person should have to undergo such strife in order to live the same quality of life many other humans are privileged to live. As we, the fortunate viewers, will be watching the Rio games from the safety of our homes, local bars and restaurants or on various electronic devices, the Refugee Olympic Team will be in need of the one thing that has been missing the most from their daily lives: unified support and love from those who are better equipped to give it.

This is the core value that Visa extols through their ad, titled "The Swim." In it, we see Mardini poised to dive into an Olympic pool while she recalls the fateful night when she rescued 20 fellow Syrian refugees from certain peril. "When the engine died that night, I told myself not to give up. To give everything. I did then and I will now," she states calmly. Mardini's turmoil is the turmoil of million in these recent years, when various countries across the globe have buckled under conflict and sent many of their citizens fleeing to safety. What Visa, through Morgan Freeman's somber, sobering voice-over, asks of us is to offer unconditional support. We must, as those watching are already in the position to do as evidenced by our circumstances in being able to watch the advertisement, support the Refugee Olympic Team in their quest for Olympic glory. In doing so, we can begin to open our arms to the millions of refugees worldwide who are in need of our support. Their position in history is cemented by their mere existence in the Olympics; how they will be remembered is determined by how much we endeavor to support them.

Yes, it's easy to forget in our daily lives that the world is so much bigger than our own respective purviews. But during this special time, which only comes every few years, it's important to really take a step back —away from our lives, from the Olympics sporting events, from the ads, from Olympic social media coverage—and recognize that the Olympics is about using sport as a universal medium through which we, the global community, can find a way to celebrate life and the pursuit of happiness.

Images: Visa/Youtube (2)