There is something fascinating about the Olympics: Sports and athletes that normally go unnoticed are all of the sudden front and center in the world’s eye.

The games bring the world together when diplomacy cannot.

One of the main themes in the 2008 Beijing Olympics was unity, and, in one way, unity was achieved; at least physically, the world was united.

The other kind of unity at the games was confined to individual countries — competition easily fosters patriotic sentiments. But does this patriotism actually extend beyond ethnocentricity? I would argue that this unity qua patriotism is often used to spur animosity toward other countries. It’s us against them, and this time, there is an actual number associated with how great each country may or may not be.

No doubt the Olympic Games come with a slew of positive effects, but at the same time, they may create some unhealthy competition that has the potential to fuel negative feelings between countries for years to come.