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Olympics: Truly international or biased towards certain countries?

Photograph: Wikipedia

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Benedict Lopez hopes that the Olympics will in future ensure that major sports played throughout the world are included – not just those favouring certain countries.

Commencing in ancient Greece about 3,000 years ago, the Olympics today is widely regarded as the world’s premier sporting event.

The first modern Olympics was held in Athens in 1896 and comprised 280 participants from 13 nations, competing in 43 events. Athens is widely regarded as the home of the Olympics.

Since 1994, the Summer and Winter Olympic Games are held every four years. The Summer Olympics has been dominated by the developed countries, although developing countries have been able to win medals too.

For the first time, the Summer Olympics is being staged in the Brazilian city of Rio De Janerio. With the Olympics in South America, only Africa has yet to host the event.

This Olympics this time has been marred by the controversy surrounding the Russian contingent’s participation as a result of doping allegations.

The Rio Olympics on 5-21 August 2016 will witness a total of 42 Olympic sport disciplines and 306 events over 19 days of competition. A total of 136 medals for women, 161 for men and nine mixed medals are up for grabs.

Since the first modern Olympics, there have been 26 Summer Olympic Games held in 22 different cities.

The Summer Olympics should be a platform where major sports from all over the world should be included – not just the ones that only certain countries excel. It should have a benchmark to include any particular sport played in any regional games like the Sea Games.

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It is not fair when a sport like beach volleyball is considered an Olympic sport, but a skilful sport like sepak takraw, which is originates from South East Asia and is a Sea Games sport, is excluded. After all, South East Asia is a region of more than 600m people.

How many countries actually play beach volleyball? Not many, I am sure, from the developing world, and yet it is an Olympics sport.

Even a game like squash is excluded from the Olympics.

If an Olympic sport like equestrian can merit three events, it clearly goes to show this sport was included because it favours certain countries. It was recently announced that for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics baseball would be included as a sport! Can a census be taken as to how many countries play baseball?

Badminton was only included in the Olympics at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992. Could the International Olympic Council provide a rational explanation as to why badminton was excluded from the Olympics for so long when the first Thomas Cup was held in 1948?

Hopefully, the Olympics in the future will take into account and ensure that major sports played throughout the world are included – not only those favouring certain countries.

If the Olympics fails to exhibit the ethos of equality, humanity and fair play, then it will be akin to politics, with vested interests showing their clout over the rest. Surely, we do not want this to happen, do we?

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Benedict Lopez was director of the Malaysian Investment Development Authority in Stockholm and economics counsellor at the Malaysian embassy there in 2010-2014. He covered all five Nordic countries in the course of his work. A pragmatic optimist and now an Aliran member, he believes Malaysia can provide its people with the same benefits and privileges found in the Nordic countries - not a far-fetched dream but one that he hopes will be realised in his lifetime
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