According to Encyclopedia Britannica, the Olympics "have come to be regarded as the world’s foremost sports competition."
Undoubtedly, this statement holds great validity. There is a distinct, intangible allure associated with the Olympics.
A worldwide stage that hosts a supreme collection of the most skilled and highly trained athletes on our planet today, the Olympic Games foster international unity over the universal worshiping of athletic competition.
For many athletes, they are a culmination of years of vigorous training and represent the single venue in which they are pitted against athletes from around the world.
They provide many athletes with their only chance to craft a nationalistic identity in a purely athletic fashion.
In supplement, the core idea of having the hopes of an entire nation teeter on individual efforts inherently creates an intense competitive aurora.
As previously described, the case with many sports is that participants only play for their country and experience international competition in the Olympics.
Tennis is not one of those sports.
Just think about it. Every single ATP World Tour event is an international competition. Players from an array of countries spanning all continents (excluding Antarctica) flood the draws each and every week.
How Significant Are the Olympics?
The national diversity that exists within the draws is unyielding and is one of its great staples.
The Olympic tournament in my estimation can be equated to a Masters Series 1000 tournament.
While winning the Olympics would give one a greater sense of pride, and has a far greater distinction than winning in Key Biscayne (Miami Masters), are they really any different besides the way in which we conceptualize them?
I firmly believe the answer is no.
The Olympic draw holds a complete 64 spots, while tournaments such as Monte Carlo, Rome and Madrid provide byes to the top-eight seeds.
In addition, the best-of-three sets matches are not formatted any different scoring-wise.
As an aside, I would propose to reform this and make it best-of-five sets to elevate the degree of competition and drama.
And think about this: Miami and Indian Wells are 96-player draws. This is more than the 64-player draw seen at the Olympics.
So I would argue that it would be more impressive (not significant) for Federer to have taken wins in these events (which he did in Indian Wells) than to win the Olympics—excluding obvious implications in regards to national pride and unity.
One last crucial thing to consider involves the venue. The Olympics will be held at Wimbledon, several weeks following the completion of the 2012 version of the great Grand Slam tournament. It is a 128-player draw and best-of-five sets.
Federer has won Wimbledon six times, so to say that the 2012 Olympic tournament (an abbreviated Wimbledon) is more crucial to the legacy of Federer than Wimbledon itself is highly illogical.
The one concession I am willing to make is that Federer has not captured a gold medal in singles. Despite this, his legacy will not be tarnished if this barrier is not eclipsed by the Swiss.
So I think it would be extremely difficult to say that the one event preventing Federer from obtaining the "best ever" label is the Olympics.
While possessing national glory and unilaterally unique flare, the Olympics cannot serve as a stepping stone towards cementing undisputed acclaim.