As the nations of the world revel in the success of their Olympians, we can all take a moment to have gratitude for the achievements we witnessed these past weeks. The dramatic, the expected, the upstarts, and the veterans yielded 17 days of enjoyment at the highest level. The marathon on Sunday seemed a fitting conclusion the games; hours of discomfort and pain suffered for the simple joy of competition, given there are so few athletes who can perform at the level of the world record holders favored to win. To see humans perform at such levels is to partake in the fullest of the human experience.
Early this summer we were fortunate to take in a National Rugby League match at Sydney’s ANZ Stadium – which began life as Olympic Stadium for the 2000 Olympics. Spending an afternoon walking through Olympic park and seeing the extraordinary development that has occurred in the 16 years since, in what used to be an industrial brownfield, was also to enjoy the fullest of the human experience. Projects such as stadiums, arenas, entertainment districts and the like are no doubt fraught with risk and uncertainty – the disrepair of the facilities from the Athens games is well documented and tragic – but we are so much the better for dreaming big and acting on those dreams. We can hope that Rio enjoys the same transformative experience as did Sydney, and likewise for the similar projects we see across our country.
As these contentious expenditures often cause initial division and angst, let us not lose sight of what they provide, and that is tremendous joy.