Sunday, January 19, 2014

Olympic numbers: Who will be there?

Daily articles appear about the upcoming Sochi Olympics.  Stories about security issues, money, athletes and what they’ll wear. 

What doesn’t get much attention, beyond predicting who will take which medals, are countries that will, or will not, participate.  Except for the parade that’s part of the opening ceremonies there’s not much said about the group overall.    The Olympics are a unique event bringing together representatives from of countries of the world for a peaceful (hopefully) gathering.  It’s an opportunity for citizen-to-citizen engagement.  So who will be there?

There would be 94 nations (of the approximately 195 countries in the world).  Some of those are in the Olympics for the first time.  (Zimbabwe, Dominica. Toga, Tonga, Timor-Leste, Thailand, Paraguay, Malta and British Virgin Islands.)

One major nation whose flag will not be seen in the opening parade of nations:  India.  They were banned from participation by the Olympic Organizing Committee due to a corruption scandal.  However, three of their athletes will participate.  Look for the Olympic flag in the parade of nations. The people in that group will be the three Indian athletes.

The size of the athletic teams coming is a varied as the size of the countries sending them.  The largest?   Russia and the United States with more than 200 representatives.  The smallest?  Nepal, Algeria, Bermuda, Pakistan and Tajikistan are part of a group sending just one person.

Over the next few weeks we'll hear lots of numbers:  the count of volunteers, spectators, television viewers, medals won.  Through all that let’s remember its people representing countries around the world, engaging in a shared, peaceful activity.   

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