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Olympic Fever

It is quite odd to be watching the UK footage of the Olympics.

For as long as I can remember, I have watched from the Canadian perspective, including interviews with Canadian athletes, stories of their triumphs and struggles, pictures of them suited in the red and white maple leaf attire.

This year, I have no idea who is actually competing for my country.

For the first time in a long time, I watched the Opening Ceremony from start to finish. I just wanted to make sure I saw the Canadian team and all the flags in the stands.

I have been pouring over the TV guide, making sure I know what time the events are on so I can make the most of the Olympic Games.

This is also the first year that I have actually been to the venue. Athens, a city that I did not have much to write home about, really does seem transformed. Although most of the wide shots are of the Acropolis, you can tell the visitors are impressed. I, like many who have been to Athens pre-Olympics, was so skeptical as to how they were going to pull it off.

Even as late at May 2003, I was shaking my head and wondering how this city of grime, pollution and construction was going to turn itself world class in just over a year. Sounds like they've made it.

I am exhilarated to be watching for the next two weeks. By simply competing fairly, citizens of the world are respecting and accepting each other, no matter their race, creed, nationality, sexuality. Everyone is equal. Everyone is given a chance. And everyone is permitted to celebrate their country pride amongst others who are as equally proud of their way of life.

Living abroad you learn to accept the way things are done and respect the differences. You appreciate your home, your way of life. But you also respect the differences and embrace them as simply another way of life.

The Olympics allows people to sit in their homes and get a small glimpse into the many different nations of the world. Amongst all the war and destruction that goes on, at least we can all pause for a couple of weeks and celebrate all of humankind.

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