It is wrong to think that the Olympic and Paralympic Games are limited to entertainment. Going far beyond the spectacle of sport, modern competition is rooted in the principles of equality, solidarity, friendship, unity, respect and understanding – some of the pillars of Olympism, the philosophy that guides championships. And, testifying to the Olympics’ relationship with the agenda of social interest, the exhibition was inaugurated last August 3, Olympic reflection and human dignity.
The initiative is supported by the Pierre de Coubertin Brazilian Committee (CBPC) and the Sports Museum, supported by the United Nations Information Center for Brazil (UNIC Rio). Available at venue In addition to the virtual museum, the exhibition includes participation from 23 professionals from nine countries, with contributions in areas ranging from anthropology to Olympic studies and various levels of expertise.
Through audio and video content, the public is invited to enter a 3D gallery and reflect on four main themes: sport and values, intersexuality, refugees and freedom of expression. Selected to pulsate within the universe of the Olympic Games and aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, these issues come into play to demonstrate how sport can expand dialogue and help build a better society. can contribute.
“We are in a pandemic, the situation in the world is still grim, but people manage to dedicate some part of their lives to sports and follow them despite what is happening in Brazil”, observes Professor Nelson Todt , one of which is the exhibition curator and coordinator of the Research Group on Olympic Studies at the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul (PUCRS). “For this reason, I believe that sport is a powerful tool not only to please our eyes, but to raise awareness of issues of social relevance.”
Todt, who is the president of the Pierre de Coubertin Brazilian Committee, explains in an interview to Galileo that reflections on freedom of expression at the Olympic Games were responsible for triggering the project. This is because, for the Tokyo edition, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) allowed competitors to express themselves in press interviews, team meetings, on social media and on political or social aspects prior to the start of the competitions.
This concession revolved around Article 50 of the Olympic Charter (under which no political, religious or racial demonstration or propaganda is permitted inside the Olympic venues) and was largely driven by the movement’s anti-racism movement. black lives matR, which gained a lot of power in the United States in 2020 and also affected the sports world – in the NBA, the North American Basketball League, athletes took their knees during the anthem in protest.
And the gesture has already been repeated at the 2021 Olympic Games. In the first round of women’s football, on 22 July, players from teams from Chile, the United States, Great Britain, New Zealand and Sweden took their knees before the start of their matches. “When we see an athlete in a position to be able to express themselves in the face of an obviously important issue in society, that is a gold medal”, says Todd.
another section of Olympic reflection and human dignity Dedicated to topics related to the LGBTQIA+ community, and intersexuality in particular. María José Martínez-Patino, from Spain, is one of the experts at the exhibition who highlights the importance of inclusion in the sport. Currently a scientific advisor to the IOC, the elite runner was banned from competitions in 1985 for having not an XX chromosome, but an XY. Since then, she has been one of the key voices questioning the eligibility characteristics of women categories.
The third axis are the refugees, who form a team of 29 athletes in Tokyo. “It contributes to social cohesion, which shows that sport is a reliable and promising means for people to show solidarity through sporting practice and to be able to socialize with each other”, United Nations for Refugees Analyzes the High Commission’s communications adviser Miguel Pacchioni. UNHCR). In addition to them, experts from Cape Verde, Portugal, Brazil and the United Kingdom are invited to discuss the integration of refugees through the Olympics.
And the project could not fail to explore the game and its values. In Todd’s view, the 2021 edition already brings with it a great symbol of the theme: the gold medal shared between Italians Gianmarco Tambri and Kataz Essa Bershim in the high jump competition. And, more than that, the friendship that athletes maintain represents the essence of the Olympic Games.
After an injury in 2016, Gianmarco struggled to compete again and over the years, one of his great supporters was Mutaz. “Take this society as an example: I don’t need to surpass others to be the best, and I’m not always the best when I win, because there are other ways to win. have some value”, Todd says.
Thus, the professor hopes that the Olympic Games can effectively attract everyone’s attention so that these social problems become a part of humanity’s past, not the present. And he looks hopeful. “I have never seen the media pay so much attention to topics that go beyond athlete performance. These topics gained visibility in a different proportion than in previous editions”, analyzes them.
Exposure Olympic reflection and human dignity It is permanent and represents the first part of the project, led by the Pierre de Coubertin Brazilian Committee. For those who wish to continue exploring the themes of sport and values, intersexuality, refugees and freedom of expression, it is worth keeping an eye on the second phase of the initiative: by the end of the year, a book with in-depth analysis of digital issues. and will be provided free of cost.
*Supervised by Luiza Monteiro