The Olympics often have had vast social significance beyond the playing fields. From Jesse Owens making a mockery of Adolf Hitler's assertions of Aryan superiority at the 1936 Berlin games, to John Carols and Tommy Smith protesting racism with their black-gloved clinched fists at the 1968 games in Mexico City, the Olympics often has been used to highlight issues that transcend sports.

This year already marks a milestone Olympics. This could well be remembered as the Women's Olympics.

For the first time ever, there are no sports exclusively reserved for men, due to the addition of women's boxing. Also for the first time, every country participating has at least one woman participant. And, for the first time ever, the United States team has more female than male members, a coincidental tribute to the effectiveness of Title IX - the federal law mandating equal opportunities for men and women in athletics and education - on its 40th anniversary. Further still, women are included on the teams of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other Arab nations.

Inevitably, these Olympics will produce controversy relative to sports - issues such as subjective judging. And the games will take place amid some of the toughest security ever.

But in terms of including all of the world's people in the competition, the games already are a triumph.