Beijing 2008 – Olympic Games and the Power to Unify Diasporas

I see the Olympics as the single-most unifying sports regular sports events. And today, I felt the unity across the globe, emitting from the rich and unique Indian disapora.

Headlines Today, NDTV and all Indian news channels are going wild with their broadcast of the Olympics and for good reason. Ace shooter Abhinav Bindra created history by clinching the first ever individual gold for India after winning the men’s 10m air rifle event at the Beijing Olympics.

COngratulations for Abhinav are pouring in from ALL over the world–anywhere with an Indian population. That I believe is the greatness of the Indian disapora. Having adjusted to culture and lifestyle of another country through decades, there is still a connection to the “motherland” — not a nationalist connection, but a cultural one.

I have never been to India. My parents have never been to India. We are Indo-Fijian in every sense with 5 generations of our family brought up outside of India. And yet, when Bindra won the gold medal, my heart leapt up in the air and I went downstairs yelling that “WE won our first individual gold medal.” Of course, they did not comprehend what I meant by WE (probably thinking Fiji) but the reaction was still of excitement and jubiliance when I revealed that India had won its first individual gold medal.

This does not make me any less American–at the end of the day I am still going to be a couch potato, plug in my IPOD, study for the LSAT and write really bad TV fan-fiction in my spare time. But it is a recognition of identities that go beyond the ‘national’ — and no one should be deriding that sort of complexity and diversity.

And how amazing were the Opening Ceremonies? I am glad that I did not need to watch the Opening Ceremony on NBC with the notoriously rude commentators making jibes in passing at countries during the parade (lets forget the amount of commercials that interupted the event). At the same time, the Indian commentators could stop picking on Sania Mirza for not wearing a traditional saree.

It was also disheartening to see South and North Korea marching separately.

Headlines Today (India) estimated that a 4billion record estimate watched the Opening Ceremonies.

If you did not catch it, you can see the opening and closing here (minus the 2 hour long parade) …

Lets not get too blind in the gold and glitter of the event. This celebration of unique talent and diversity does not mean we ignore other voices and concerns.

In New Delhi, nearly 3,000 Tibetans shouting anti-China slogans braved heavy rains to protest near India’s parliament against the Olympics being staged by China.

“China is not the right place to hold Olympics, it is a blood Olympics, it is a shame Olympics,” shouted Kalsang Tsering, a Tibetan protester.

At the same time, lets not make political conditions and rivalries into the topic of discussion. Following the logic applied by Tibetan protestors, the Olympics should not be held in any country since there is no country in the world that does not violate human rights.

Bring on the women’s beach volleyball…

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