By Jenny Fujita and Joy Miura Koerte, Fujita & Miura Public Relations
It is ironic that the summer Olympics in Athens, Greece are underway in the midst of the war in Iraq. In one instance talented athletes from all around the world have traveled from afar to compete in the Olympic Games while our brave soldiers of the 299th battalion, and thousands of others just like them, have been deployed to Iraq to fight a war. This irony emphasizes the importance of peace not only abroad, but also in our own backyards, and thus illustrates a PR basic.
Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, President of the Athens 2004 Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games, said in the 2004 issue of Global Agenda Magazine, “If we want a demonstration of peaceful competition and human interaction…then we should look no further than the Olympic ideals. Since ancient times, peaceful competition on the athletic and sporting field has served as a useful metaphor for how human interaction ought to work in other spheres – from business to politics.” Well said.
The Olympics are steeped with history, philosophy and symbolism that not only countries, but also counties, businesses, even families can model. According to the 108-page Olympic Charter, the goal of the Olympic Movement is “to contribute to building a peaceful and better world by educating youth through sport practiced without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.” Sounds like PR 101.
In wartime or when relationships are stressed, a truce comes in handy. The tradition of the Olympic Truce dates back to the 9th century BC, in Ancient Greece when during the Truce period, the athletes and their families, as well as ordinary citizens, could travel in total safety to participate in or attend the Olympic Games and return afterwards to their respective countries. According to the official website of the Olympic Movement, “Taking into account the global political reality in which sport and the Olympic Games exist, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided to revive the ancient concept of the Olympic Truce …Through this global and symbolic concept, the IOC aims to raise awareness and encourage political leaders to act in favor of peace; mobilize youth for the promotion of the Olympic ideals; establish contacts between communities in conflict; offer humanitarian support in countries at war; and more generally to create a window of opportunities for dialogue, reconciliation and the resolution of conflicts.” Can’t argue with that.
The lesson on the small-scale is that when conflicts arise in business, it can serve us well to step back (or forward) and play another game, one with clear rules, impartial judges, and awards for excelling. In the process of playing the game well and fairly, peace could be the result. And ultimately, peace is the basis for all good relationships, and all good PR.