As we approach the 2018 Winter Olympics, many surprises have stirred the scenario. With Russia banned from competing and North Korea unifying with South Korea to participate, the eight days remaining are full of anticipation. The upcoming events have been described as “an historical moment for the Olympic Movement” by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in their Olympics Highlights article published Jan. 25th. 2018’s winter games will take place in Pyeongchang, South Korea throughout February 9-25.
Technically, North and South Korea are currently at war, and have been for 65 years. Since the Korean War of 1953 was not ceased with a peace treaty, relations have been tense, to say the least.
“I really hope that they (North and South Korea) would end up making some sort of progress towards peaceful relationships,” Senior Olivet swimmer Guilherme Magnoler said. Magnole, majoring in Mechanical Engineering, came to America in 2013 from Brazil.
“I’ve had a few friends back in Brazil go to the summer Olympics,” he said. “It was in Rio, one of my friends was 20 at the time, and they said that it was fantastic. But at the same time it was very emotional, very nerve-racking for them.”
Although surprising in its last-minute occurrence, this is not the first time North Korea has joined with South Korea to compete. Throwback to 27 years ago, at the World Table Tennis
Championships, North Korea united with South Korea to participate after five painstaking months of coordinating.
“It took us 22 rounds of talks to set up that joint team,” Mr. Chang, North Korean International Olympic Committee (IOC) member, reported to local media, according to BBC news. The dilemma of setting up the ordeal in 1991 for the Tennis Championships influenced North Korea to initially rejected President Moon of South Korea’s offer to join the 2018 Winter Games. However, on Jan 17, North Korea declared they would in fact be a part of the Olympics, not wasting any time to prepare this time around and joining in at the last minute.
As one Unified Korean Olympic Team, “Olympic Korean Peninsula Declaration”, the two will march in the Opening Ceremony. Together, these athletes will compete in figure skating, short track speed skating, cross country skiing, alpine skiing, and in a unified women’s hockey team.
According to the ANOC Olympic News, “The IOC has decided to allow the two National Olympic Committees, for the first time in their Olympic history, to form a unified team in a sport,” in regards to the joint women’s hockey team. Twelve North Korean athletes have been added on to the 23 members of South Korea’s women’s hockey team. Head Coach Sarah Murray addressed the political controversy surrounding the additional players.
“It’s kind of something that’s bigger than ourselves right now,” Murray said in a press video on the Olympic channel. “I hope this is a tipping point for the Koreans to start participating in it more.”
- For figure skating, North Korean RYOM Tae-ok and KIM Jusik will make their marks in ice, as well as Olympic history.
- JONG Kwangbom and CHOE Un-song of North Korea will compete in short track speed skating.
- In the cross-country skiing event, North Korean athletes HAN Chun-gyong and PAK Ilchol, RI Yong-gum will join.
- As for alpine skiing, additional teammates CHOE Myong-gwang, KANG Song-il, and KIM Ryon-hyang will unify for the gold.
As a sense of unity comes to the Korean peninsula , Russia will be getting the cold shoulder.
Many athletes from Russia have been deemed unclean to participate in the games. Athletes include former NHL stars Sergei Plotnikov, Valeri Nichushkin and Anton Belov. Clean Russia athletes may compete in the games under a neutral flag.
This has caused frustration for clean athletes, such as Viktor Ahn, cross country skier and six-time gold medalist. Crushed, by what Ahn claims to be false accusations, he will not be able to participate in this years winter games.
Ahn, originally from South Korea, wrote an open letter to IOC President, including the following statements: “It is outrageous that there is no concrete reason which explains my exclusion from the Olympics, and furthermore people now view me as an athlete who used doping.”
“I hope that the IOC will ultimately declare their reason for my exclusion, so I will be able to defend my honor and dignity.”
While Russia faces exclusion, there are several newcomers to the Games. Ecuador, Eritrea, Kosovo, Malaysia, Nigeria and Singapore will be competing in the Winter Olympics for the first time this year. Tune in, be informed, and faithfully root for your favorite team during this year’s Olympic Games.