2018’s Winter Olympics is by no means the first Olympic Games I’ve watched – and definitely not the last. It is, however, one of the first Olympic games that I’ve really noticed the internal and foreign relations that affect and are impacted by the games. I remember the Sochi and Rio games very well, and I recall memorable moments from the London and Beijing games. But I don’t remember too much in the way of how the American government – or the American people – reacted to and interacted with the host governments. During the Russian and Brazilian games, we heard about the lack of facilities, the state of the venues and hotels, and other issues that impacted the games. Maybe I was just too starry-eyed by the amazing athletic feats, but it seemed to me that the athletic events at the recent Olympic Games were almost overshadowed by the U.S., South Korean, and North Korean governments relationship.
I know that the location of the games opened the door for more conversation outside the realm of athletics than usual, but in many cases I thought that the politics were center-stage as opposed to the events and the athletes. Between the Russian doping scandal and subsequent banning of Russia from the games, to the rumor that the U.S. wasn’t going to send athletes to the games, to the back-and-forth of North and South Korea joining forces on certain team events, I felt that the athletes were not the main focus before, during, or after the games (save perhaps Chloe Kim’s amazing gold medal performance that delighted Americans and South Koreans alike).
I’m guessing that the games during the Cold War and the games immediately preceding and following WWII were also focused on the politics and relations of several major nations to the extent that these Olympic Games were. With that thought, I’m wondering if relations between some of the major world players (ie: the U.S, China, Russia, and the Koreas) will warm following the Olympics or if they’re destined to continue to deteriorate to points seen during the Cold War.