Rev Dr David Smethurst with Belarus Olympic Journalists
News Daily recently published an article how the citizens of a growing number of the world's most significant cities are objecting to an Olympic Games coming to their country.
Only Paris and Los Angeles remain in the running for the 2024 Summer Olympics. Both have hosted the Olympics previously, and more so, 1984 Los Angeles was the first to turn the money black hole into a profit with a tough financial agreement with the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
Since then, Olympic host cities have struggled to emulate the Los Angeles model of free market enterprise making it a win-win for both the Olympic movement and the money quiver of the city.
The larger the financial power house of a city, the better the outcome will be for those citizens who are expected to bear the financial where-with-all after the 'fat lady sings' (as it were).
Hard nose fiscal strategists are the most important people when bidding for an Olympic hosting experience and its heavy going. The competing causes are replete with disasters considering the mega dollars from television rights, business options, city underwriting and Olympic requirements.
Now we learn that Durban South Africa, the only city that bid for the 2022 Commonwealth Games has been stripped of the 'non-privilege' for all these sorts of reasons.
1500 Olympic semi-final London 2012
There are many Olympic requirements – here is a short list
- Olympic sport venues
- Hotel accommodations
- Olympic village
- Airport logistics
- Transport facilitation
- Pedestrian access
- and a whole lot more
Another Olympic host city requirement is Religious Services. In February 2000 IOC Vice President Kevan Gosper arranged for my visit to Lausanne Switzerland to work with IOC professional staff to develop a 'Transfer of Knowledge' for Religious Services. I had been involved with Olympic Religious Services since LA 1984
Each Olympic host city provides a centre for Religious needs of the Olympic family, and although this may not be a big issue for Australians, for a vast majority of those engaged from the third world, it is vitally important.
The facility has sections for the major world religious groups and they in effect run their 'own show' as it were. Catholic, Protestant, Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim are the big five. The Religious Services organisers have found over these many Olympics that the system works ensuring each have their own space.
The Protestant section is well and truly blessed with regular bible studies, Christian services and ambient space for coffee, chatting, fellowship and even counselling.
Olympic Outreach - Evening with the Olympians
The main game
Although this is part and parcel of the official host city Olympic requirement, the real evangelism is done outside the Olympic village – these are the mass of volunteers who converge on every Olympic city and are involved in a wide range of mission outreach activities.
- Street memes
- Art and Crafts
- YWAM missions
- Pastoral care
- Coffee centres
- Cold water
- Churches opening their facilities
- Evangelistic rallies
I could go on and on and on. This is where the real evangelism takes place. A friend of mine who speaks 6 languages and a remarkable evangelist seeks a volunteer job as an official Olympic driver and there he encounters Olympic family members face to face.
There are many thousands of such examples, where Christian outreach touches the lives of Olympic family members, visitors and citizens of the city.
Therefore when the Olympic movement finds a reduced number of cities, all of whom demand a high degree of fiscal responsibility pressuring the Olympic movement, it also affects in many different ways the more important evangelism motif of ministries.
Our prayer is to work alongside all those involved at this level to prepare for every Olympic event for the benefit to reaching the lost for Christ.
Carl Lewis presenting the OMM to Dr Mark Tronson in 2009
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children. Dr Tronson writes a daily article for Christian Today Australia (since 2008) and in November 2016 established Christian Today New Zealand.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html