Michelle Kwan on Why We Need the Olympics Now More Than Ever

Michelle Kwan on the Olympics
Photo: Getty/Doug Pensinger

In just a few months, hundreds of the world's most talented athletes will descend on Pyeongchang, South Korea, for the 2018 Winter Olympics. For those of us who have found ourselves submerged in the endless barrage of tempestuous news alerts over the course of this year, the prospect of watching the games might serve as a welcome distraction. Better yet, it could be a much-needed reminder that in the face of such global chaos, it's an opportunity to transcend the divisiveness—even if just for this purpose, just for a few weeks.

Indeed, while the Olympics have always been an important display of worldwide cooperation, this underlying ethos feels especially crucial during such times of unrest. And no one knows this more than the athletes who have spent time (and extraordinary effort) competing on this particular global stage.

"Every Olympics presents a tremendous opportunity for countries to unite together to support Olympians and the message that the games represent," the iconic Michelle Kwan says when I ask her about the significance of the upcoming games. As a two-time Olympic medalist and five-time world champion, the retired figure skater has plenty of firsthand experience with this dynamic of unity. "The games bring the county and world closer together. During divisive and tumultuous times, the Olympic Games is a moment when thousands of athletes will proudly represent their country in unity and acceptance despite differences of culture, race, religion, skin color, or economic status."