Rabat- This Friday, Abdelillah Benkirane will represent His Majesty the King at the opening ceremony of the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, on the banks of the Black Sea.
Russian President Vladimir Putin wanted these games to be very big, and will be. Sochi and the surrounding region have been adapted for the occasion. There have been many large sports, as well as infrastructure building projects. These unifying projects are unique in the history of the country. With them, Putin seeks to make this region a new destination for world tourism.
In delegating Benkirane as his representative, His Majesty not only shows interest in sport, but also in Moroccan-Russian relations. I still remember Leonid Brezhnev, General Secretary of the Soviet Union, on official parade in the streets of Rabat. It was 1961 and the parade was significant for international relations with Russia.
After Friday prayer, Benkirane will sit in the official gallery and take great delight in watching the Russian show. There is no doubt that the ceremony will be great. During this time, the head of our government is likely to come to many conclusions.
He will see how sport is is crucial in the development of a country. He will understand not only the economic importance of sport, but also its political importance. These things will be proven by the audience of well-known personalities he will meet here.
Benkirane will appreciate how a sporting event can mobilize an entire people, an entire nation. He’s going to feel it at the airport and all the way to the stadium. If he actually looks out of his car or hotel room, he would see a country in a good party mood.
Benkirane won’t have the chance to meet the athletes, but he will be in contact with the volunteers who will show him the way, and will seat him. They will show him with grace, and smile with happiness and pride in being the world center for two weeks.
While enjoying the pleasure of attending the Olympic Games, Benkirane will see the flags of the world and seek the flag of his country, Morocco. He will look carefully—as any Moroccan would—if there is a well placed star.
Benkirane will see the meaning of equality between men and women, since there are as many female athletes, organizers, and guests as male.
Benkirane will see that Morocco is present at this universal gathering, and will have to thank Canada and the USA for that. He will ask, what are the chances of our representatives? The answer will surely be that there is great hope for both Adam Lamhamdi and Kenza Tazi. Lamhamdi won the Olympic medal of the youth games, and Tazi comes from Boston.
I hope that Benkirane raises other questions, even as he is plunged in this euphoric party.
For example, what is the situation of sport in his country? Why is it failing? Why have the projects failed and the great ideas degenerated? What is the budget reserved for them? What is the strategy of development? Do his actions meet the aspirations of his voters?
He will compare and wonder why sport works elsewhere and not in his own country.
What a pity that he must come back before the end of the games. He would have seen hundreds of gorgeous creatures ascending to the top of their art, and he would have understood the significance of sport performance.
Benkirane would have seen, for example, the giant slalom and encouraged Adam Lamhamdi. He would have liked the skating, sled, bobsled, hockey, or curling competitions. He would have learned many things, things that may give him a desire to make sport a top priority in his government. But this is another story.
What really is the place of sport in his policy?
Translated by Nahla Landolsi. Edited by Katrina Bushko
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy
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