A mosquito.

A tiny, seemingly inconsequential flying creature, commonplace across the globe. Simply a prick of a pain in most parts, barring those where Malaria is a very real risk to lives of locals and visitors alike. But otherwise, just a nuisance, normally.

But for countries across the globe, especially in the Americas, this little pest has had a paralysing effect. Travel and tourism: cautioned. Family planning: delayed. Olympic dreams: debated.

Zika. It has become a globally known name of a virus up until now ‘out there‘ but seen as far from risk to the ‘here & now‘. Its pesky, prickly carrier? Those once tiny, troublesome little mosquitoes are now the source of terrifying prognosis for hopeful parents, and heartbreaking probability for hopeful athletes. The competitors at the moment, fighting out the debate re. Games go/no-go? WHO, CDC, IOC, and so many other entities.

But the Zika virus is not the only pestering problem. Brasil, host country to the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games, is bruised on many sides at present. Health & safely. Economy. Politics. The list only grows.

Sadly, while the reasons for woes may differ, the pre-Games distraction does not. And with that, the complete disregard for what the Games mean for the thousands of athletes from across the world who have put in hundreds of thousands of hours of training, hoping, dreaming, crying, trying and trying again and again, to get to the Games.

How is it that the athletes, the heroes of the Games, are repeatedly forgotten? How has it become possible that their blood, sweat and tears dreams are so easily set aside to give space to the drama?

Whether London, Sochi, Athens, or elsewhere, and now Rio, challenges to LOCs re. infrastructure readiness, citizen support. Now, in the case of Rio, government and economic collapse, not to mention the threat of the Zika virus, push away the dreams of athletes to allow for pre-Games debates on Games viability. These are the debates that directly, disappointingly, devastatingly take the oxygen out of the hope and inspiration that Games can and do so naturally generate.

And yet, once again, it is the athletes that are the losers in the pre-Games game playing.

Their training will continue, their dreaming will continue, most likely until the last possible minute until which the verdict can be delivered. They, the athletes of the 2016 Games, are not prepared to quit, even if the rest of the world is ready to quit on them.

Sadly, even now, there are so many emotions pushing back on their dreams. The natural momentum of skepticism, pessimism, negativity, are increasing the level of debate, and levels of concern, the list of reasons why the Games should be postponed or relocated.

And through it all, the athletes, and their dreams, are left as silent, innocent bystanders.

What will the final result be? Who will win – the athletes, or the antagonists? The dream, or the debate?

2016 is no different to 2012, or 2008, or any other Summer Games….or Winter Games, for that matter. Somehow we need to find a way to protect the dreams of these Olympic hopefuls, honouring their endless efforts to get to their version of gold, honouring their dreams.

Citius, Altius, Fortius“. These are the words, in Latin, that define the essence and dictate the slogan, of the Olympic Games.

“Faster, Higher, Stronger.”

These words apply not only to the athletes, but to a world of onlookers who, like the athletes themselves, should be working daily to win in the race of hope & glory over debate & disappointment.


Copyright: ANITA MENDIRATTA 2016