Diplomacy that Works: Rio Reflections

Arguably the world’s most significant set of global diplomats gathered over the past two months for one of their regular meetings. I’m not talking about the G7, the G20, NATO or some committee at the United Nations. As far as I know, none of these diplomats are presidents, prime ministers, chancellors, CEOs, chairman/chairwoman, or dictators for life. They don’t control big budgets, large armies, or vast bureaucracies. It is an egalitarian group where nationalities, races, and sexes mix freely and everyone has the same title – Olympian or Paralympian.

I should start by covering a few important qualifiers. First, while I was a Division I athlete in college, I was never in the same athletic zip code as any of the Olympians or Paralympians and certainly can’t speak for them from experience. Furthermore, I am a member of the United States Olympic Committee board of directors – so I definitely have my biases. I will also openly admit that the Olympic movement has its share of important challenges — cost, site selection, doping, athlete rights, security, and many other issues – all difficult topics that Olympic leaders need to address in a more effective manner. Fact.

But this post is not about the leadership or administration of the Olympics – that would take a book, not a blog post to dissect. Rather it is about the heart and soul of the movement: the athletes who change our lives and advance the world’s understanding of other cultures one step, one throw, and one vault at a time. The world’s greatest diplomats.

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