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The newest country sending athletes to the Olympics

Helen Innes '19

Helen Innes, Opinions Editor

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In early January, North Korea announced that it would be sending athletes to the 2018 Winter Olympics hosted in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Amid talks about nuclear and missile programs imposed by North Korea, this acceptance into the Olympics will seek to ease the tensions between the two countries. According to an article in the New York Times, South Korea, which closely neighbors North Korea, requested that North Korea send a large group to February’s Olympics.

The International Olympic Committee is hopeful for the North’s return to the Olympics, and has offered to cover all costs for the athletes. Meanwhile, South Korea wishes for both countries’ athletes to walk together when the games officially start in February. The South also hopes that this event will strengthen the ties between the two countries, as mentioned by the New York Times.

Not only will North Korea send athletes, but the country has announced to send a cheering squad and other performance dancers as well. North Korea has not participated in the Olympics in over eight years as a result of its attempt to sabotage the 1988 Seoul Olympics. By planting a bomb on a Korean Air passenger plane in 1987, killing 115 people, North Korea has not been asked to the Olympics since.

So far, North Korea has not mentioned any conditions to which the attendance in the 2018 Olympics will require. However, talks between South Korea’s cabinet minister, Cho Myoung-gyon, who tasks relations with the North, and Ri Son-kwon, the North Korean counterpart, have been taking place regularly. According to the New York Times, Mr. Ri began and wished to televise the talks, a task that he hoped would show the North’s sincerity about reforming the ties between the countries.

While the situation itself can seem confusing, the overall goal of the North’s talks with the South’s is inviting. No matter what people’s views of Kim Jong-un’s dictatorship style may be, it is nice that the North is focusing on giving the athletes opportunities that they may not have had before. These are moments when the true spirit of the Olympic Games comes to view: athletes from supportive countries competing against other athletes to help bring the world together.

Junior Karina Smith relishes that fact that North Korea is sending athletes to the Olympics. “The Olympics is a time for all the countries to come together under one roof. Athletes bring the world together and we should celebrate them more often.”

While there is so much strife and violence in the world about countries’ relations with one another, focusing on athletes for a month or two is not all bad. Athletes are the people who unite us; athletes train harder than anybody else when no one else is watching, and we all go through the same pain and grief when completing at such a high caliber.

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The newest country sending athletes to the Olympics