As recent news would suggest, taking part in a clinical trial and taking part in the Olympic Games may be more similar than you would think. You’d be forgiven for thinking that both would require you to be administered with some form of drug, if you are a Russian athletics competitor anyway. In the midst of the recent negative controversies surrounding the upcoming Games in Rio de Janeiro, now would be a perfect time to remind ourselves of how the Olympic Games can be the perfect distraction, in the short term at least, to everyday worries. And also how the Olympic spirit is the embodiment of the values that we should all promote and aspire to live by.

Olympic Games 2012 Rings on Tower BridgeNaturally, we can’t think about the Olympic Games and not recall that special fortnight in 2012, where the oldest and greatest sporting competition came to these shores for the first time in 64 years. After years of doubt and cynicism surrounding whether hosting the Games was worth the cost at a time of deep recession, the opening ceremony of London 2012 arrived. Before we knew it, the gold rush began and the cynicism that once threatened to overflow, had been replaced with unreserved optimism. The widespread optimism was a welcome culture change to the traditional British pessimism and for that particular moment in time it was as though anything was possible. It’s hard to put a finger on it, but for those two weeks in 2012, we were together, and it felt like the little problems that we all share were a distant memory. Memories which were exchanged with national pride and a celebration of just what we could acheive if we put our minds to it.

The sense of togetherness is also created through the worldwide coverage of The Olympic Games. The knowledge that so many Olympic rings peace sign and Brazilian flagothers, from all around the globe, are equally as hooked to the action as yourself, makes you feel just as part of the Games as the athletes themselves. The vast reach of the Games can make it the perfect place to demonstrate the value of togetherness and friendship. Sometimes in the face of adversity. Proof of this was shown at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. During the time of the Games, tensions between Russia and Georgia were at breaking point as the countries went to war. In an odd twist of fate, two female competitors from both countries, shared a medal podium in the shooting event. In a stand of defiance against the ongoing war, both competitors also shared an embrace along with the sentiments that “There should be no hatred among athletes and people”. Sentiments that we can all echo.

Another value that is a paramount element of the Olympic spirit is that of excellence and determination. The athletes taking part can be a shining example to those watching of how hard work can get to you to the top of your game. We could all learn a lot from an Olympic athlete’s mentality of stretching every sinew to its absolute limit in pursuit of that illustrious medal. It is definitely a mentality we try to promote here at Covance when carrying out clinical research, in order to develop new treatments.  The Olympic Games also emphasizes the importance of taking part. Winning isn’t everything and sometimes just making it to the start line can be an achievement in itself. Consider the performance of the Jamaican bobsled team at the 1988 Winter Olympics; although they didn’t even register a time in the Games after crashing dramatically in their qualifying run, their determination to succeed against all odds won the hearts of the world. Just watch “Cool Runnings” and see for yourself!

Christ the Redeemer Rio and Olympic Rings 2016These are just a few of the values associated with the Olympic Games and one of the many reasons we are all enticed by it every time those rings roll back around. The Games in 2012 invoked a special spirit across the country where it just seemed as though we were all extremely positive. We would no doubt love for that spirit to return, if only for a little while, at a time where the national outlook is less certain. Hopefully Rio will be able to provide this, and do the same for Brazil that it did for us four years ago.

So with the Rio Games just a javelin throw away. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself becoming an expert judge in the sychronised diving 10 metre platform final, or being able to distinguish the difference between an ippon and a waza-ari as your recently adopted favourite judoka goes for gold!