South Korea Will Reportedly Lose Over $10 Billion Hosting the Winter Olympics

Unsurprisingly South Korea is hosting the Winter Olympics at an enormous financial cost to the country:

Leave it to Andrew Zimbalist to throw cold water on an even colder Winter Olympics. The Smith College economics professor and long-time Olympics skeptic hopped on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” to spill the beans on the pitfalls of the PyeongChang Games.

The most stunning nuggets? That South Korea is staring down a loss north of $10 billion for hosting this year’s international festivities.

“At the end of the day, they spent $13 billion. They’ll get back about $2.5 billion,” Zimbalist said. “The only way you can justify that kind of a terrible balance is if, in the long run, it’s going to promote tourism, promote trade and promote foreign investment.

“There’s no evidence from other Olympics that that might happen.”

That astronomical bill stems, in part, from building scantly used Olympic venues — and not just the $109 million ceremonial stadium in PyeongChang. The organizers also spent untold sums to clear 58,000 trees from a sacred forest on Mount Gariwang, where the Alpine skiing course was subsequently constructed.

Beyond that, South Korea spent billions on infrastructure to connect PyeongChang to the South Korean capital of Seoul. Even with the addition of high-speed rail, the commute still clocks in close to two hours.

Some of these costs might be justifiable if the host country’s citizens were enthusiastic about snow and ice activities. But to hear Zimbalist tell it, “The South Koreans are not very fond of winter sports in general.”  [Yahoo Sports]

You can read more at the link, but the article goes on to explain how only 60% of the tickets for the events have been sold showing how little interests locals have in the games.  What is even sadder about this economic loss is that the biggest winner of the Winter Olympics has so far been North Korea with their propaganda coup all at the ROK government’s expense.

Joint Korean Women’s Hockey Team Eliminated in the Winter Olympics

That didn’t take long for joint women’s hockey team to get eliminated:

Korea-Sweden hockey match

Goalie Shin So-jung of the unified Korean team (R) looks at the puck after allowing a goal in a women’s preliminary round ice hockey game at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics at the Kwandong Hockey Centre in Gangneung, 240 kilometers east of Seoul, on Feb. 12, 2018. The joint Korean team lost 8-0, suffering a preliminary round exit. (Yonhap)

The joint Korean women’s hockey team was eliminated in the preliminary round at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics on Monday, following its 8-0 loss to Sweden.

Korea suffered its second straight loss in Group B play, at Kwandong Hockey Centre in Gangneung, site of all ice events during the Olympics, two days after falling to Switzerland 8-0. The shots were 50-19 for Sweden.

Korea needed to finish in the top two in Group B to reach the knockout stage. And with the two losses, it won’t get there regardless of the result against Japan in Group B finale on Wednesday, which will also take place at Kwandong.

Sweden, which earlier beat Japan 2-1, and Switzerland have two wins apiece. They’ll clash on Wednesday at Kwandong with the top seed at stake. [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link, but the women’s hockey team was not expected to do much in the Winter Olympics.  With that said I have to wonder how much the fact that the North Koreans were added to the the team just a few weeks before the Olympics impacted their play?  The team is getting drubbed and has not scored a goal yet.


NBC Bans Joshua Cooper Ramo from Pyeongchang Winter Olympics Due to Controversial Remarks About Koreans

For being a supposed Asia expert, Joshua Ramo made quite the blunder with his statements about Korea and Japan during the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics:

Joshua Ramo

NBC Sports analyst Joshua Cooper Ramo has been relieved from its PyeongChang Olympic coverage after enraging many Koreans with ignorant remarks about their country.

An NBC Sports spokesperson, who refused to be named, told The Korea Times Sunday that Ramo has been removed from the role.

“It was possible for him to do more with us here; now it is no longer possible,” the official said.

Ramo angered Koreans here and overseas by saying during the opening ceremony on Friday, “Every Korean will tell you that Japan is a cultural and technological and economic example that has been so important to their own transformation.”

NBC apologized for the comment.

“NBC issued an apology in a written letter to the PyeongChang Organizing Committee, and on air, regarding the comments made by one of our presenters during our coverage of the opening ceremony,” the official said. “NBC has great respect and admiration for South Korea and its people.”

The official explained that NBC hired Ramo “to serve as an Asia expert during the opening ceremony. His role was to give an overview to our viewers of the host country and this region of the world.”  [Korea Times]

You can read more at the link, but problem number is one is to claim “every Korean will tell you”.  It would be more accurate to say some Koreans may believe Japan was important to the development of South Korea, but many other would disagree which is quite evident by the simmering tensions remaining today.  Problem number two is why even go down this political rabbit hole during the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics?  Can’t these commentators just talk about the athletes and their accomplishments?

Does Kim Yo-Jong Have the Smuggest Smile Ever?

Is it just me or does Kim Jong-un sister, Kim Yo-jong have the smuggest smile I have ever seen?  Here is a picture of her arriving at the airport:

N.K. delegation arrives in South

Kim Yong-nam (R), North Korea’s ceremonial head of state, and Kim Yo-jong, the sister of the North’s top leader Kim Jong-un, walk into a reception room at Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul, on Feb. 9, 2018. The two are members of the North’s high-level government delegation that came to the South on the same day for the PyeongChang Winter Olympics. (Yonhap)

Here she is at the welcome reception:

Kim Yo-jong lightly smiles during the welcoming reception hosted by South Korean unification minister at Incheon International Airport’s VIP reception room, Friday. / Yonhap

Here she is sitting next to US Vice President Pence at the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics.  This was probably a pretty awkward moment for everyone involved:

PyeongChang Olympics open

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence attends the opening ceremony of the 2018 Winter Games at PyeongChang Olympic Stadium in the host town of PyeongChang, east of Seoul, on Feb. 9, 2018. Seated behind Pence are Kim Yo-jong (R), the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, and Kim Yong-nam, the North’s ceremonial head of state. (Yonhap)

Stomach Virus Spreads Among Workers at Pyeongchang Winter Olympics

Via a reader tip comes news that a virus is spreading among workers at the Winter Olympics:

Soldiers guard the entrance to Gangneung Oval on Feb. 5 after they replaced 1,200 Olympics security agents who were quarantined the same day because some have contracted norovirus. / Yonhap

Some security agents responsible for the PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games have been infected with norovirus, forcing organizers to quarantine about 1,200 agents and replace them with soldiers.

The committee categorized 41 staff members as “suspected patients” on Monday.

Earlier the day, the committee had said three of them were confirmed to have contracted the virus, also known as the winter vomiting bug, while 38 were suspected of having it.

The patients vomited and suffered from stomach pains. Some of the agents were in charge of the athletes’ village, raising concerns that the virus may affect international athletes who will stay there.

The patients, mostly university students, were hired by a recruiting agency to provide workforce for screening at the entrance of venues.

Organizers said the virus appeared to have originated from Horeb Odaesan Youth Training Center in PyeongChang, where the agents stayed in a room for six in a group of 10. The Institute of Health and Environment under Gangwon Province Office found traces of the virus in a drinking water dispenser, and in shower rooms and in washroom basins.  [Korea Times]

You can read more at the link, but if a number of athletes get sick because of this virus, this will be a major setback for South Korea who is hosting the games.

Picture of the Day: Olympic Hospitality Houses

Hospitality houses at PyeongChang Winter Olympics

This photo, taken on Jan. 29, 2018, shows an Olympic hospitality house for Switzerland being built at Yongpyong Resort in the northeastern alpine county of PyeongChang. Several nations participating in the Feb. 9-25 PyeongChang Winter Olympics will operate Olympic hospitality houses during the competition. Run by national Olympic committees or corporate sponsors, these hospitality houses will promote countries’ cultures and specialty foods. (Yonhap)