Jesuit says Olympic torch symbolises unity, not national competition
The movement of the Olympic Torch through Sydney and Melbourne, then eventually every other continent on earch, calls us to a sense of international unity, not cheap international competition, according to Fr Peter Norden.
"Pass the Flame, Unite the World" is a true expression of the Olympic Spirit, but the National Medial Tally is definitely not," said Fr Norden (pictured), who is himself a former torch bearer.
"The Olympic Games risk being dominated by a small group of wealthy western nations," he said. Fr Norden is Policy Director at Jesuit Social Services in Melbourne.
"International unity and the recognition of individual excellence are faithful expressions of the Olympic spirit," he suggested, "not the suggestion that some nations are superior to others because they win more medals."
Fr Norden was at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Saturday to join with the football crowd in welcoming the Olympic torch.
"I can, with some regret, accept that my AFL team, Hawthorn, is on the bottom of the football ladder, but I cannot accept the international medal taly that places the poorest and most disadvantaged nations at the bottom of the Olympic Medal Tally," he explained.
"The Olympic Games call us to a powerful experience of the international community, 'the global village' and to an understanding of our place in a bigger world than one of national competition, massive corporate sponsorships and international comparisons," he said.
"As Australians wish to contribute to the rebuilding of such countries as East Timor, Iraq and Afghanistan, are we prepared to put them into a competitive medal tally with countries like the United States, England, France and Australia?" he asked.
The Olympic Torch: Calls the world to unity, not national competition (Jesuit Social Services 5/6/04)
Cheers and tears greet Olympic flame (The Age 5/6/04)
Olympic Torch in Australia (ABC Sport - Athens Olympics 2004)
The Olympic Movement
Olympic Torch to Return to the MCG (MCG 2/6/04)
Jesuit Social Services
Scrap Games medal tally says torchbearer priest (CathNews 1/8/00)
7 Jun 2004