Question: Do you feel the World Masters Games will ever become as popular as the Olympics?

Sri Chinmoy: There is every possibility that the World Masters Games will become very popular in terms of bringing real joy to mankind. In the Olympics, each individual is trying to get a gold medal. But the real meaning behind the gold medal is joy. A grandfather may not bring back a gold medal, but he brings back joy. He comes all the way from an obscure village to compete, and when he goes back home, his grandchildren are not going to ask him, "Can you show me your gold medal?" No, the fact that he has gotten such joy from competing is enough. This grandfather perhaps for many months did not smile, thinking of his sport or collecting money to come to Puerto Rico. But now the whole family is seeing that the grandfather is so happy. If the father sees that the son has become an Olympian, he will be so proud. Similarly, if the son sees that the father has gotten real joy by participating in these Masters Games, it will be a happy family. One individual has come from an Indian village and another has come from an Australian village. When they go back to their countries and speak to their children, grandchildren, friends and neighbours about the Games, and when others see such joy in them, then this joy will spread like wildfire in their village, town, city and country.

So it is quite possible that eventually the Masters Games will be as popular or even more popular than the Olympics. Most of the athletes are not expecting to break any record; they are happy just to participate and get innocent joy. But many Olympic athletes will go home really miserable because they had come for a gold medal and perhaps did not even get the bronze. But in the Masters Games, even if your place is last, you are very happy.

It is like the difference between amateurs and professionals. In tennis, for example, as soon as people become good players, they turn professional so that they can become millionaires overnight. Then the real joy goes away from the game. In the Olympics, the athletes are not getting money; they are just getting gold medals. But still, much of the joy has disappeared from the competition. So many people are looking for name and fame for their countries, and the prestige of all the countries is at stake. The countries spend thousands and thousands of dollars on the athletes, and there are so many businesses that act as sponsors. But in the Masters Games, everybody came at their own expense just for the joy of competing. If they can continue like this — doing everything at their own expense — then they will continue getting pure joy and giving pure joy to mankind.

The world is crying for joy, and I think the Masters Games will give more joy because the competition is not on such a vital plane. Here, in the competition there is a psychic touch. People have become more mature over the years; they have gone through success and failure many, many times. When they were young, almost all of them had the same kind of qualities that the young ones have today. But now that they are older, they don't want to manifest these qualities. They are looking only to give and receive joy. Here you have people from various countries coming together and making friends. If I come here and make a friend, and if we both become friends with someone else, then how can there ever be any conflicts in the world? These types of games give us a golden opportunity to become one family, and they contribute tremendously to the joy of the world-family.