North Korea for the GOLD

The Olympic Winter Games is a major international sporting event held once every four years, for sports practiced on snow and ice. The original five sports (broken into nine disciplines) were bobsleigh, curling, ice hockey, Nordic skiing (consisting of the disciplines military patrol, cross-country skiing, Nordic combined, and ski jumping), and skating (consisting of the disciplines figure skating and speed skating). The Winter Games have evolved since their inception. Sports and disciplines have been added and some of them, such as Alpine skiing, luge, short track speed skating, freestyle skiing, skeleton, and snowboarding, has earned a permanent spot on the Olympic programme.

Some others, including curling and bobsleigh, have been discontinued and later reintroduced; others have been permanently discontinued, such as military patrol, though the modern Winter Olympic sport of biathlon is descended from it. Still others, such as speed skiing, bandy and skijoring, were demonstration sports but never incorporated as Olympic sports. The rise of television as a global medium for communication enhanced the profile of the Games. It generated income via the sale of broadcast rights and advertising, which has become lucrative for the IOC. This allowed outside interests, such as television companies and corporate sponsors, to exert influence.

The IOC has had to address several criticisms, internal scandals, the use of performance-enhancing drugs by Winter Olympians, as well as a political boycott of the Winter Olympics. Nations have used the Winter (as well as Summer) Games to proclaim the superiority of their political systems. The IOC has selected Pyeongchang, South Korea, to host the 2018 Winter Olympics. North Korea will compete in 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea. Two figure skaters, Ryom Tae-ok and Kim Ju-sik, were qualified for the Games, but the Olympic Committee of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) failed to enter them by the 30 October deadline. On 9 January 2018, North Korea agreed to negotiations with South Korea to send the qualified athletes and a delegation for the Winter Olympics. The impasse was broken off when North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un signaled the possibility to send athletes to the Games after all in his New Year’s speech for 2018, saying “North Korea’s participation in the Winter Games will be a good opportunity to showcase the national pride and we wish the Games will be a success.

Officials from the two Korea’s may urgently meet to discuss the possibility”. The announcement was followed by South Korean agreement to participate in the first high-level talks with the North since December 2015. The talks were scheduled for 9 January 2018. North Korea is also prepared to talk to the IOC that week. In preparation for the North-South talks, the two countries restored the Seoul–Pyongyang hotline, which had been inactive for almost two years. and exchanged related documents via fax. After these developments, North Korea’s IOC member Chang Ung said that the participation of North Korean figure skaters again looked likely. The possibility of North Korean participation has stirred up talk about a possible Olympic boycott by the United States, after the administration of President Donald Trump, who has been at loggerheads with Kim Jong-un, has issued mixed messages. After discussions on 9 January 2018, North Korea announced they will be sending athletes to compete along with a delegation to attend the Winter Olympics. Amid heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula in 2017, North Korean participation in the Games attracted “geopolitical urgency”.

Olympic officials, South Korean politicians, and international athletes widely think that the Games will be safer if North Korea participates. As a gesture of peace, South Korea will allow North Korean athletes to exceptionally pass through the Korean Demilitarized Zone. by road, normally cut off from all traffic. Supporters will be allowed to travel by ship. The Winter Olympic Games will start on February 8th and will continue on until February 25th.<!–more–>

Written by Athena Reyes, Staff Writer

(Image via CNN)

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