BY ARYN LAYNO | STAFF WRITER
The 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, is only 40 miles from its border with North Korea. This issue of proximity raises the question of how much of a threat North Korea poses over the Olympic games.
“If there were some type of war action, that would change things dramatically,” said Samuel Auxier, president of the U.S figure skating team, in an article by Jere Longman of the NYT.
Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina believes that the U.S would be aiding North Korea’s regime ways, and that boycotting the games would be the best idea. But the athletes participating won’t let a political feud get in the way of their career.
“I think they need to be careful saying things like that because these athletes have worked so hard to get there,” said Auxier. “The Olympics should be above politics. They shouldn’t be playing politics with this.”
Olympians train for years to participate in the Olympics, and according to Auxier, boycotting it would devastate the athletes. The same issue goes back to 1980, when the U.S boycotted the summer Olympics in Moscow, Russia due to the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan. Don Paige, American track and field olympian, was supposed to compete at the 1980 Olympics for the 800 meter event. Paige had run the fastest 800 meter time that year and was a fan favorite. But due to the boycott former president Jimmy Carter had issued, he did not compete. “To this day I have never watched that Olympic 800 final, I made a promise to myself,” Paige told CNN.
Although tensions between supreme leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un, and President of the U.S, Donald Trump, have risen lately due to Trump’s “bigger button” feud, North and South Korea have a more peacful relationship. Last year, North Korea sent their women’s national hockey team to play in South Korea, and South Korea sent their women’s soccer team to play in North Korea.
BBC News reported that North and South Korea have also announced that the two nations will be marching under the same flag as a sign of their unified relationship after almost 70 years of being at war. Still, the issue of proximity raises some concerns.
Pyeonchang, the location of the Olympics, is only forty miles away from the border between North and South Korea. This adds to the possible threat that North Korea poses on the Olympics. “Allowing Kim Jong Un’s North Korea to participate in #WinterOlympics would give legitimacy to the most illegitimate regime on the planet,” Senator Lindsey Graham tweeted. Adding to the dangers North Korea poses, North Korea has a well known reputation of violence, such as their 1988 attack on a Korean Air Flight ten months before the 1988 Olympics, as a way of protesting the Olympic games. However, current signs are pointing towards North Korea refraining from attacking the Olympics. Specifically, North Korea’s athletes performing in the 2018 Olympics and their unified flag, symbolizing their newfound relationship of peace.
“These worries are understandable,” said Choi Moon-soon, governor of the South Korean province where the Olympics will take place, “If they participate in the event, that threat disappears.”