2016 Summer Olympics: Where were the flowers?by Jennifer Sparks on August 22, 2016 at 10:52 am
How amazing it has been to watch athletes from around the globe compete in the Rio 2016 Summer Games! The talent, drive, determination, and years of hard work that went into their preparation to get to that point was inspiring, and they deserve to be recognized. As millions of people around the world watched the Olympics, however, they noticed there was something missing from the medal ceremonies in the presentation of gold, silver and bronze to the winning athletes — the presentation of flower bouquets.
The floral industry, in particular, took note because we understand the power of flowers. It’s not even about the pretty pictures (although flowers sure have enhanced the ambiance of past medal ceremonies). It’s about the meaning of flowers in recognizing the hard work and achievements of the athletes. Let’s think about this…
What has always been a symbol of great theatrical performance or artistic recital? Flowers.
What has long been a congratulatory gesture for someone getting a job promotion or reaching a particular milestone? Flowers.
What is one of the best ways to say “job well done” after someone has worked really hard to achieve a goal, for themselves, for their company, or for their country? Flowers.
And flowers have always been a part of the recognition of Olympic athletes, until now.
The reason flowers are the universal gesture to recognize great achievements is because they convey emotion like nothing else. In fact, flowers are scientifically proven to create instant delight and happiness, which is why they are almost always part of celebrations and major life milestones (think birthdays, graduations, anniversaries, weddings, new babies, the list goes on and on). Beyond that, the presence of flowers is also scientifically proven to chase away anxiety and worry, and boost energy and enthusiasm. With many athletes competing in multiple events, it is likely they could use the positive well-being effect that flowers produce, as they prepare for their next competition.
The main reason reported for the lack of flowers at the 2016 Olympic games is sustainability, in the terms that flowers aren’t permanent. But what of the great things about the Olympics, other than the medals themselves, is permanent? Certainly not the celebratory meal with teammates, family and friends — but the connection made with those gathered around the table is locked in time as a great moment. Not even the glory from the win has permanence, as that fades with time and new winners and records — but the feeling of victory can last forever. All the best things in life are fleeting, and nothing physical lasts forever, but certain symbolic gestures – such as giving flowers – can enhance a moment like no other. Just the fragrance or color of a small bouquet can evoke memories of times past, even decades later.
Giving bouquets to the Olympic winners on the medal stand not only adds to the acceptance of their medal while the crowd cheers and their national anthem plays in the background, but provides a natural, living symbol for their hotel rooms as they prepare for more competition, or helps savor that time if it is their last in the games. The bouquet they receive can also be shared with a coach, parent, or friend, giving the athletes an immediate way to thank and recognize those who have provided endless support in their journey to be the best of the best in their sport. It adds to the positive experience for all involved.
Flowers should have a place in the Olympic games. With sustainably grown flowers being produced all over the world, they are easily sourced and can effectively represent the local flair of the host location. It is our hope that the International Olympic Committee will reconsider its position and let the Olympics bloom again for the athletes and spectators alike.
Do you think flowers should be part of the Olympic medal ceremonies?