Breaking the political ice

CAITLYN SAMPLEY / AGGIE

Put political differences aside for sake of sport

Every four years, outstanding athletes from all over the world pride themselves on competing in the Olympic Games. The time leading up to the games is filled with extreme patriotism from participating countries, and while the Olympics strive to be independent from the political climate, the two are not mutually exclusive.

This year, in parallel to the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games, the attention is diverted from sports. The big controversy surrounds the pairing of North and South Korea to play under a unified flag. Not only will the two countries march onto the Olympic stage together, but they will also, for the first time, compete in the Women’s Ice Hockey category as a joint team. The South Korean team has clearly expressed its discontent with the decision, but nonetheless the teams will remain as one.

Sarah Murray, the head coach for the Korean women’s ice hockey team, said she agreed with players who don’t want to be made into “a political statement and that they just want to play the game.”

While it appears that diplomats take advantage of the Olympics to either advance their political agenda or establish relationships with other countries, the Olympic Charter states, “The Olympic Games are competitions between athletes in individual or team events and not between countries.”

The Editorial Board agrees that the individuals should not be obligated to represent the political stance of their respective countries and recognizes each individual as a competitor who has earned their right to be an Olympian, regardless of political discourse. By the same token, however, we cannot say that the Olympic Games are exempt from the political arena.

In examining the history of the Olympics, it’s clear that politics influence their status. The 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin were heavily tainted with the extremist politics of the Nazi regime and were the reason for potential boycotting. After winning the 200-meter dash in 1968, Tommie Smith and John Carlos shocked the world with the Black Power salute during the United States national anthem. In the 2014 Winter Olympics hosted by Russia, the games were deemed homophobic due to the hosting country’s law on “gay propaganda” that raised an issue for some competing athletes.

Whatever the political atmosphere, the Olympics are a core part of shedding light on the hosting and competing countries’ stances. Politics are supposed to be put aside for the sake of sport during the Olympics, yet the relationship the worldwide games provides makes the distinction difficult.

Although we cannot put aside growing political tensions during this 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, the Editorial Board urges that viewers pay respect to each Olympian’s talents and achievements. Watch the Olympic events justly, without heading each athlete’s countries’ political climates.

 

Written by: The Editorial Board

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