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No Medals for Politicizing Olympics, Penalizing Athletes

No Medals for Politicizing Olympics, Penalizing Athletes
Supporters of North Korea wave the unified Korea flag prior to the women's 1,000m short track speed skating heat event during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games, at the Gangneung Ice Arena in Gangneung on February 20, 2018. (Mladen Antonov/AFP/Getty Images)

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Tuesday, 20 February 2018 04:46 PM Current | Bio | Archive

Korean Air Flight 858 lifted majestically into the sky on its regular Baghdad-to-Seoul route. It never reached its destination. Instead, the plane was blown out of the sky by a bomb planted by two North Korean government agents. All 115 souls, mostly South Koreans, perished on that fateful day in 1987.

That barbarism was personally ordered by future leader Kim Jong-il (son of then-President Kim Il-sung, and father to current madman Kim Jong-un) to destabilize South Korea’s government and disrupt its upcoming elections. But there were two other reasons.

The North Koreans wanted to maximize fears about the 1988 Summer Games in Seoul, hoping the Olympics would be canceled due to safety concerns. And North Korea was angry that its offer to co-host the Games was rebuffed.

This is the same country, mind you, that “cared” so much about Olympic competition that it boycotted both the 1984 Games in Los Angeles, and those in Seoul.

And the same country that, during the 2002 World Cup in South Korea, opened fire on a South Korean naval patrol boat, killing six.

Yet if South Korea had its way, North Korea would have co-hosted several events at these Olympics.

Let’s get this straight.

North Korea has waged attacks on South Korea for decades, boycotted Seoul’s Olympics, tried to cancel the 1988 Games by ruthlessly murdering 115 people, and routinely threatens countries with nuclear annihilation. Yet all of us are now kowtowing to them, and we afford their athletes special treatment. This is okay?

Has South Korea forgotten the past that quickly? And has the International Olympic Committee, along with most of the world’s media, completely lost their minds?

In our world of political correctness and staggering naivete, that is exactly what has happened.

Let’s look at how politics have undermined these Games and stifled the true spirit of the Olympics:

1) Despite South Korea’s efforts, the Olympic organizing committee stated: “Co-hosting goes against International Olympic Committee regulations.” Good decision.

But how then is it possible that North and South Korea were allowed to march together at the opening ceremony, carrying a “unification” flag, no less?

If you can’t co-host, countries should not be allowed to join forces and compete together. But the Koreans are doing just that, as the women’s hockey team is competing as a “unified” entity.

That’s flat-out wrong. It’s a serious affront to the South Korean hockey players, and sets a precedent that will likely destroy the character of future Olympics.

Here’s a newsflash to those fawning over the feel-good “unified” story: North and South Korea are not united. In fact, North Korea has repeatedly stated that it is in a “state of war” with the South. Let’s stop politicizing the Olympics by this phony “unity,” and get back to the true essence of the Games: athletic competition.

2) North Korea and South Korea are two completely sovereign nations, so in no way should they be allowed to compete together.

The South Korean hockey team has been placed at a distinct disadvantage. Its players, who have built a familiarity with each other, are suddenly handed twelve North Koreans whom they’ve never met. Talk about being a political pawn.

But huge kudos to South Korean coach Sarah Murray, who had the guts to speak the truth that the unified team “damages” her players, adding: “It's hard because the players have earned their spots and they think they deserve to go to the Olympics. Then you have people being added later. It definitely affects our players.”

What’s next? Will Norway, Sweden, and Denmark form a “Scandinavian contingent” so that they can win winter events under a single banner? Should the Eagles and Steelers join forces in an attempt to guarantee all-Pennsylvania Super Bowls?

It’s great for Olympic officials to say: “nations don’t compete, athletes do.” But that’s simply not true. Medal counts are designated by country. National flags adorn uniforms and drape winners. And national anthems are played for those who achieve gold.

Nations should never be allowed to compete together. Never. Not because of past history (under that rationale, the U.S. and Britain could join forces); not because a country has few athletes; and certainly not to “ease political tensions.”

3) But the appeasement was just beginning.

Only two North Korean athletes qualified for Olympic competition. One problem: North Korea’s National Olympic Committee failed to register them by the deadline. Guess what? The International Olympic Committee said “no problem.” Let’s be honest: if American athletes failed to register, they would have been watching the Games from home.

Are deadlines not really deadlines, but more like loose “guidelines?” Or are there two standards: one for the North Koreans, and one for everyone else?

But it gets worse.

Twenty North Korean athletes were handed “wild card” quota spots, enabling them to compete, despite not qualifying like everyone else. Interestingly, wild cards are almost always allotted to the host country to bolster their numbers. So why is North Korea getting wild cards? Back to Points One and Two: North Korea is not the host country!

How would athletes feel if they were knocked off the podium by a wild card, seeing their chance at Olympic glory (and lucrative careers) go up in flames, all in the name of politics? Don’t think it could happen? A) That’s not the point. Allowing them is inherently unfair. And B) Olympic history is filled with out-of-nowhere winners, including a North Korean Silver Medalist speed skater in 1964.

Wild cards are anathema to fair play and should be eliminated.

4) Anyone who believes that three weeks of Olympics is going to help “diffuse nuclear tensions” is woefully naïve. Kim Jong-un is promoting “goodwill” solely to weaken resolve on retaining sanctions. How many times must we be fooled before it’s too late?

5) The behavior of American politicians boggles the mind. First, we had U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley and Senator Lindsey Graham promoting a boycott if North Korea participated, a move that would have repeated President Carter’s colossal failure in boycotting the Moscow Summer Games. Boycotts are pointless, and an irreparable assault on a nation’s own athletes.

Then we had Vice President Pence’s childish theatrics. He refused to stand when the Korean athletes entered the stadium, which embarrassed his South Korean hosts; purposely failed to acknowledge North Korea’s nominal head of state; and deliberately ignored Kim Jung-un’s younger sister at the ceremonies, despite sitting almost next to her.

Pence wants it both ways: criticize Democrats (rightly) who disrespected the president by boycotting his inauguration and State of the Union, yet do the exact same thing to people with whom he disagrees. Mr. Pence’s actions, which reinforced the notion that bad behavior is acceptable whenever one sees fit, accomplished nothing. Problems can never be solved without an attempt at civil communication. Definitely no medal for Mike Pence.

This author visited Olympia, Greece several times, retracing the ancient routes that competitors traversed to attend the games. Hostilities ceased during the Olympics, and safe passage was guaranteed, all for the chance to put politics aside and compete fairly and without prejudice.

Sadly, in the almost 3,000 years since the first Games, we have learned nothing. Here’s hoping the Olympic Committee stops coming in last and goes for Gold in future Games by leveling the playing field, leaving politics at home, and shot-putting political correctness out of the stadium.

Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, Freindly Fire Zone Media. Read more reports from Chris Freind — Click Here Now.

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Here’s hoping the Olympic Committee stops coming in last and goes for Gold in future Games by leveling the playing field, leaving politics at home, and shot-putting political correctness out of the stadium.
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Tuesday, 20 February 2018 04:46 PM
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