Unified Korean team could ease tensions
By Jerrison Oracion, Senior Columnist
The International Olympic Committee has announced that both South Korea and North Korea will be on the same team in the 2018 Winter Olympic games, which will be held in Pyeongchang, Korea.
Instead of athletes from the two countries being in two separate teams, both countries will be under a unified flag and they will be called Korea. Also, their women’s hockey team will consist of players from both South Korea and North Korea. If an athlete in the team gets a medal, it will be a win for both countries, which could reduce tensions between the countries. Korea has a lot of great athletes and they could even get the most gold medals during the games.
Pyeongchang wanted to host the winter Olympic games and they had three attempts to get them. Their first two attempts were in 2003 and 2007, but they were beaten by Vancouver and Sochi, respectively. Now the Olympics are coming back to South Korea since they hosted the summer Olympic games in Seoul in 1988.
In 2003, North Korea was beginning to develop a nuclear missile and have made significant progress towards that goal since then, causing tensions most noteably between North Korea and America.
Also, the South Korean athletes are starting to get along with the North Korean athletes and it shows the spirit of the Olympics, which prioritizes people from different nations coming together and bonding over shared passion for sports. While this could help calm the situation, the United States is watching closely. Donald Trump’s use of the words “fire and fury” and his denouncement of North Korea during his recent state-of-the-union speech are still fresh in everyone’s minds.
Russian athletes will be in the games this year, though they will be under the Olympic flag because of the country being banned from the games due to a doping scandal. While at least 400 Russian athletes will be part of the games after strict drug testing, the chairman of Olympic Broadcasting Services, Richard Pound, thinks that the IOC should do more to prevent Russia from doping in another Olympic games, according to a report by CBC News.
According to CBC News, Russian speed skater Olaf Graf will not be going to the games because most of her teammates are not allowed to go with her.
The Canadian Olympic Team will likely get a lot of medals during the games as well. Many of the athletes on the Canadian team will retire this year including bobsledder Kaillie Humphries, figure skaters Tessa Virtue, Scott Moir, and Patrick Chan, and short track speed skater Marianne St-Gelais. The Canadian men’s hockey team will consist of former NHL players and hockey players that are in other leagues because NHL players cannot go to the games this year.
Something to watch for in curling is mixed doubles curling which is one of the new winter sports in the games this year. Kaitlyn Lawes and John Morris will act as heads of the Canadian team.
One of the local athletes that is in the team this year is Coquitlam’s Larkyn Austman in women’s figure skating.