The Olympics - more than just a game?
Issued: Tue, 07 Sep 2004 00:00:00 BST
A Glasgow scholar was this year funded by the British Academy to conduct research at the Athens Olympic Games.
Dr Beatriz Garcia, Research Fellow at the Centre for Cultural Policy Research (CCPR) at the University of Glasgow, has been researching the Olympic Games since it took place in her home city of Barcelona in 1992.
The British Academy project was taken in collaboration with Dr Andy Miah at the University of Paisley, with preliminary studies at the Salt Lake City 2002 Winter Olympics and the Sydney 2000 Summer Olympics.
As a result of their work, Dr Garcia and Dr Miah have been asked by Jude Kelly, chair of culture at the 2012 London Bid, to advise on the cultural and educational aspects of the London bid to host the 2012 Olympic Games. During their time in Athens, they had private meetings with Cherie Blair who is now ambassador for the London 2012 Olympics and Tessa Jowell Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. They also met with Sebastian Coe who is heading the bid.
As part of this work, Dr. Garcia and Dr. Miah were part of a select audience at an Olympic Truce function, which included Prime Minister Tony Blair, Prince Albert of Monaco, Queen Sofia of Spain, the current International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge and former President Juan Antonio Samaranch.
'The Olympic Games is much more than just sport,' explains Dr Garcia. ' We are trying to raise the profile of Truce, which can help to restore lost faith in the Olympics and their cultural and moral dimension. It is critical that bid cities get behind this initiative, which will not be without controversy, but promises a brighter future for the Olympic Movement'.
The research examined the role of non-accredited media, namely those media not involved in sponsorship of the games, in presenting the symbolic and cultural dimension of the Olympic Games and representing the host city. The provision of a platform to introduce the Olympic Truce is one of the most interesting findings. This and related findings are to be explored in a new book project titled 'The Olympics and Philosophy' under review with Open Court Press.
'Very few people know about the Truce, but they soon will,' comments Dr Miah.
'It is the most essential and meaningful part of the Olympic Movement at present. It has been endorsed by the United Nations and by various heads of states and offers a unique apolitical context for peace discussions.'
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In the last five years, Dr Garcia has been invited to speak about her work at the International Olympic Academy in Olympia (Greece), the Olympic Museum and International Olympic Committee Research Centre in Lausanne, the annual meeting of the British Olympic Association and international congresses organised by the Centre for Olympic Studies at Autonomous University of Barcelona, University of New South Wales (Sydney, Australia), University of Western Ontario (Canada) and most recently Renmin University of Beijing (China)s.