Though we are rarely sleeping now that we are in the swing of things, we are learning a lot. I am apologizing straight-away if my posts are disjointed, as I tend to complete them at midnight or later, as is the case now.
There is so little time here it seems! Great people and content I suppose are the culprit. There are about 191 participants here, a number of Masters students who are more permanent and some faculty, encompassing about 100 nations or so. What is really interesting is that nearly all the participants I speak to have, are in, or are soon starting a graduate degree. I did not expect this.
We had 3 lectures covering a variety of topics today. Academics from Germany, Greece, and GB presented these topics – Olympic Movement and its Responsibility for Human Rights, Olympic Legacy: Reflections on Urban Space and Global Connectivity, Cultural Olympiads: One Hundred Years of Cultural Legacy Within the Olympic Games. Some topics are more engaging for me than others. What is of particular value is the discussion that occurs after and the variety of opinions represented across nations. It affects the way I view the Olympic Movement because there are angles and influences I had not considered previously. Particularly sustainability of the Olympic brand and what I consider the power of the dark side – doping and other cheating scandals. I won’t go into that much because it’s not interesting in this format.
Throughout each day, numerous subtle but notable moments occur. For instance, there is a Syrian athlete here and two Israeli delegates. The Syrian went out of his way to warmly introduce himself – incredible considering a) he is from a nation in civil war now and b) the extreme animosity espoused by nationals from each. There is also an Iranian participant who is fluent in English (ironically President Ahmadinejad, famous for emptying UN meetings because of this anti-Semitic rants, lost the Iranian election today). A Palestinian contingent was to take part but did not arrive. The Israelis were actually prepped for this and advised on to handle should conflict arise, which apparently had in the past. For me, I would love to openly ask these folks candid questions about their country and sport system. Most of the time it is too sensitive though. I’ve made really good friends with the Israelis who are very friendly and open. One is from the equestrian federation and the other works at the Israeli high performance youth school. Perhaps my new Iranian friend and I will chat tomorrow about Ahmadinejad's departure.
If you would like to learn more about the IOA or view the lectures, you can visit www.ioa-sessions.org. Today there were 500 people who logged in to view and apparently 6500 hits on the website; far beyond what I’d expected.
I should mention that pentathlon is well represented – two Egyptian pentathletes are here and one Guatemalan. Time for a quick sleep. Thanks for checking in. J
The Facebook page of Pentathlon Canada is linked to a number of the photos from the event - feel free to check out.