(Photo courtesy of Pixabay)
Garfield Senior High School

The Olympics and World History

The Olympics, a time where the world cheers on for their country in an attempt to be seen as the best or just happy to see their country grab a few medals in the events, has been going on since the Olympics started back in 1924. Just this past winter, the winter Olympics were held in Pyeongchang, South Korea and saw both North and South Korea lose tensions and may have even had an impact in the eventual agreement of denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. It comes to show how much impact the Olympics can actually have, but what else has the Olympics done, peace and conflict alike?

For one, we would have to go back decades, in fact three years before the start of WWII. The 1936 Olympics were held in Berlin to an already fascist Nazi Germany. Forty-nine nations would compete in those Olympics and there was conflict and an attempt to boycott the games by other nations, but Adolf Hitler would allow people of other ethnicities to compete in the games.

The tensions came up originally because he wouldn’t allow Jews to compete in the games. That being the major problem, there was no other tensions that would arise from the Summer Olympics even though it would only be a couple of years later where Germany would attack Poland and subsequently starting WWII.

The next historical fact involves the two countries in a state of a nuclear war, the Soviet Union and the United States. Tensions between the two countries were high ever since the beginning of the Cold War and up until the fall of the communist country and there was no exception in the Olympics.

In fact, the United States and 66 other countries didn’t participate in the 1980 Summer Olympics which took place in Moscow, Soviet Union after their invasion of Afghanistan. The USSR would retaliate by boycotting the 1984 Summer Olympics. Events in the Olympics before was also no help as the 1972 Basketball Finals made rigged so that the Soviet Union would win after a play with three seconds left was repeated three times until the USSR scored an easy layup guaranteeing them the win.

To look back, the Olympics doesn’t guarantee peace between countries like it did with North and South Korea, but it is a way in which athletes from all over the globe get to compete against one another, for their countries, in an attempt to show that they are the best.