It is undeniable that western media has largely focused on two major international stories over the past couple of weeks – the Donald Trump charade and the Rio Olympics mess.
It is true that Donald Trump has successfully managed to steal away the gaze of the global media at a time when Rio de Janeiro is bracing to host the world’s biggest sporting extravaganza.
However, as the Olympic Games kick off in the Cidade Maravilhosa, me and Ankit certainly hope that the spotlight is firmly taken away from the misogynist, xenophobe, lying, baby hating, racist bigot who is somehow one step away from becoming the next President of the United States. Atleast until the games get over.
Several sub-narratives emerged as I watched Rio’s glittering opening ceremony last night. A team of 10 refugees from 4 countries (South Sudan, Ethiopia, Syria and the Democratic Republic of Congo) marched through the iconic Maracana stadium amidst rapturous applause from all present.
There was also a team of Independent Olympic Athletes under the Olympic flag who strode through nonchalantly through the arena. 9 athletes from Kuwait will compete in the games independently after the Kuwait Olympic Committee was suspended by the IOC due to “undue government interference“.
Another thing which stood out was the Olympic contingent from the partially recognized state of Kosovo. Double world judo champion Majlinda Kelmendi was the flag bearer of Kosovo’s 8 member team at the opening ceremony.
It was a moment of immense pride for a country which has spent the last 15 years fighting and lobbying for a chance to be recognized in the international arena. Kosovo was recognized by the International Olympic Committee in 2014.
“Seeing our sportswomen and men beating the odds of history to MAKE history. Incredible”, said Hashim Thaçi, the President of Kosovo through his twitter handle.
— Hashim Thaçi (@HashimThaciRKS) August 6, 2016
Earlier this year, members of football’s world governing body FIFA voted to induct Kosovo as its 210th member country – signalling another landmark for the tiny East European nation.
While Serbia continues to oppose Kosovo’s right to exist as an independent sovereign nation, moments such as the one I witnessed last night augur well for its ambitions to emerge from the shadows of International obscurity.