SEVENSEAS Marine Conservation & Travel Issue 16, September 2016 - Page 107

Along those lines, how many viewers at home celebrated Brazil's gold medal in soccer? How many of them were actual Brazilians? Take that energy and imagine what it was like to hear the bars of Ipanema Beach, filled with Brazilians and non-Brazilians alike, roar with excitement for that final goal. Brazil won and everyone celebrated. Many news outlets also reported on the selfie taken by the South Korean and North Korean female gymnasts – an act arguably defiant, but one that never would have happened outside of the Games. While attending a Greco-Roman wrestling match, I found my own political viewpoints taking a back seat as a group of Iranian enthusiasts proudly displayed their flag and fervently chanted for their wrestler two rows behind me and another group of US travelers. Admittedly, it’s hard to imagine a setting in which US citizens are entranced by Iranian enthusiasm, but you couldn’t fault someone for wanting to cheer along with such zeal. If there was an issue, it wasn’t known. These are the unifying moments you can’t replicate outside of the Olympics and that underscore how much more we have in common, even if we’ve forgotten that.

Lastly, the various hospitality houses set up by different countries add to this appreciation of world unity. While some are not open to the public, most allow visitors and offer a chance to experience the Games from that country's perspective. Typical foods from that country can be purchased as well as drinks (and the beer flows at many of these places). After you’ve settled with a meal and a beverage, you’ll notice the same enthusiasm represented by different colors. In Rio, one was able to grab a beer on the beach at the German house, dinner at the Holland House, and dance the night away at the Austrian house. Wherever you are, the celebration of the Games, the athletes, and the supporters never diminishes.