Posted September. 25, 2017 07:24,
Updated September. 25, 2017 08:50
Germany and Austria have made a stance of considering not attending the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics citing heightened tensions in the Korean Peninsula. Although there has been a precondition, “If the situation in the Korean Peninsula deteriorates and cannot guarantee the safety of athletes,” Germany and Austria may actually stay away from Pyeongchang if North Korea tensions fail to alleviate before the Pyeongchang Olympics, which is to be held in four months. Given that these countries are sports powers in the Winter Olympics, which ranks the 6th and 9th place, respectively, their absence will undesirably fade the meaning of the Winter Olympics.
There was also a media report that French Sports Minister Laura Flessel is reviewing skipping next year’s Winter Olympics. She spoke her formal position of denying not attending the Winter Olympics during her meeting with South Korea’s Vice Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Roh Tae-kang. Still, such media report must have come from concern over the safety of athletes. The fact that European countries are considering not attending the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics is clear evidence that they actually feel threatened by North Korea’s provocations. The successful launch of North Korea’s intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) implies that Europe is also within range. This is why some European countries expelled North Korean ambassadors or decreased the number of diplomats, not to mention imposing economic sanctions against North Korea.
Among the 95 participating countries, no country has notified not attending at the Pyeongchang Olympics. However, it is time for the South Korean government to focus on risk management so that no more countries will review skipping the Winter Olympics. It is urgent to persuade European countries with object numbers. For example, the stock market, which reacts sensitively to the North Korean nuclear risk, increased 19% compared to the beginning of the year and the recent announcement by the International Monetary Fund raised South Korea’s economic growth rate of 2017 by up to 0.3 percentage point, from the initial 2.7 percent to 3.0 percent.
The 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics has already been hit hard due to the absence of the National Hockey League and the Choi Soon-sil scandal. The Korean government must bring up its best in sports diplomacy so that all countries can attend the Winter Olympics by guaranteeing the safety of every single athlete no matter what kind of security or political situation it may face.