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Now is the time to focus on the Olympics

Posted January. 30, 2018 07:20,   

Updated January. 30, 2018 08:20

한국어

The 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics will be the largest Winter Olympics in history, according to organizers on Monday, with the participation of 2,925 athletes from 92 countries, 67 more athletes and four more countries from the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. Marking the global sports event, a total of 26 leader-level foreign officials including Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, and U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres will also visit Korea.

Yet, the list of foreign dignitaries to be visiting Korea announced by the presidential office of Cheong Wa Dae on Monday seems to be not full enough to meet earlier expectations. Though there is still a possibility that Chinese President Xi Jinping will attend a closing ceremony, out of four major powers, namely the United States, China, Japan and Russia, only Prime Minister Abe has decided to take part. Besides, with the participation of North Korea in the games and the ongoing inter-Korean talks, all attention is being centered on who will head the North Korean high-level delegation. Thus, it is difficult to deny that Pyongyang appears to be taking the lead, as some claim, at least in terms of diplomatic interest.

In fact, the South Korean government’s vision of a “Peace Olympics,” which it pursued with the joint entrance of Korean athletes, a joint women’s ice hockey team and cultural events, has been greatly damaged by North Korea’s announcement that it will hold a threatening military parade on the eve of the Olympics. Pyongyang’s decision has also shaken Seoul’s “post-Pyeongchang” diplomatic strategy through which it seeks to keep the momentum and lead it to the Washington-Pyongyang dialogue. Above all, it cannot be more regrettable to witness a global sports event, which should serve as an opportunity to integrate society and uplift national pride, be stained with controversies over the South Korean government’s passive attitude towards the North.

We should not forget that the success of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics lies in the hands of all of us. The successful hosting of the Olympics will significantly enhance the national brand of Korea in the world. People from every corner of the world will see, hear and feel the hosting country’s culture, atmosphere, history and even the faces of Korean people they get to meet before heading back home. Thus, we should be able to fully exhibit our ability to hold a flawless, safe Olympics and welcome the guests with utmost kindness and smiles. Now we have only 10 days left before putting our preparation into action.