IOC President Wants to Visit North Korea to Beg Kim Regime to Participate in Winter Olympics

Most of the world and the IOC fought to keep Apartheid South Africa out of the Olympics, but North Korea a country with a far worse human rights record and a threat to world peace has South Korea and the IOC literally begging them to participate:

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach is seeking to visit North Korea to discuss its participation in the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Games, South Korean government sources said Friday.

“The IOC is believed to be discussing with North Korea a possible trip by President Bach to Pyongyang for talks on the country’s participation in the PyeongChang Olympics,” a source said.

The IOC is seeking the visit based on close consultation with the South Korean government.

It remains to be seen, however, whether the North would accept Bach’s visit despite heightened tensions over its nuclear and missile tests. The North last week test-fired an intercontinental ballistic missile that appeared capable of reaching Washington DC.

“There is no guarantee that the visit will take place. But if it does happen, it could be interpreted as a positive sign for North Korea’s participation in the PyeongChang Olympics,” another government source said, adding that there was a possibility of a lower level official of the IOC making the trip instead of Bach.  [Korea Herald]

You can read more at the link.

Nikki Haley Says that the Trump Administration Has Not Decided If the US Will Participate in 2018 Winter Olympics

This seems like a pretty odd thing to say unless the US has some kind of intelligence that the North Koreans are going to commit some kind of provocation during the Winter Olympics:

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said in an interview with Fox News that her country’s participation in the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics next February was an “open question” due to security concerns over North Korea, stirring worries in South Korea Friday that the Games could flop.

South Korea’s Blue House scrambled to rebut the idea, saying U.S. President Donald Trump had “promised” President Moon Jae-in during a recent phone call that his country would participate.

During an interview with Fox News’ “The Story with Martha MacCallum” on Wednesday, Haley said the U.S. government has not decided yet whether to participate in the games, adding, “What we will do is make sure we are taking every precaution possible to make sure” that American athletes are “safe and to know everything that’s going on around them.”  [Joong Ang Ilbo]

You can read more at the link, but the North Koreans have not committed any provocation nearly as bad as what happened before the 1988 Olympics in Seoul when they bombed KAL Flight 858 killing 115 people.  Despite that provocation the US still participated in the Seoul Olympics.

Picture of the Day: Olympic Torch Passes Over Mt. Mudeung

Torch relay for PyeongChang Olympics on mountain

Lim Soo-kyung, a resident of the southwestern city of Gwangju, carries the torch for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics at Jangbul Pass on the city’s Mount Mudeung on Nov. 24, 2017. The Olympic torch relay in South Korea, which began Nov. 1, will cover 2,018 kilometers — the same number as the year of the games. (Yonhap)

Picture of the Day: Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium Nears Completion

PyeongChang ceremonial venue nears completion

This photo, taken on Sept. 29, 2017, shows PyeongChang Olympic Stadium, the stage for the upcoming opening and closing ceremonies for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Games, in PyeongChang, 180 kilometers east of Seoul. PyeongChang’s organizing committee said the 35,000-seat venue will be finished the following day, 22 months after the start of its construction. (Yonhap)

Athletes Worry that 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea Could Be Cancelled

The North Koreans bombed an airliner prior to the 1988 Seoul Olympics and the games still occurred so I don’t think a bunch of rhetoric is going to stop the Winter Olympics:

But here we are, talking about miniaturization and intercontinental ballistic missiles, fretting about that inflection point where words turn to bombs, understanding that not only PyeongChang next year but Tokyo in 2020 will live under the constant threat of annihilation from the most irrational of actors.

And it’s amid this dread that Olympians stare at the potential danger, weigh it against four years of grueling training for an unmatched apex and, well, shrug. They comprehend the gravity. They recognize the threat. They’ve just got better things to do than worry about it.

Maddie Bowman is 23 years old. She won Olympic gold in Sochi with a flawless halfpipe skiing run and went viral thanks to her grandma. She balances training for PyeongChang with studying for college, though neither keeps her from remaining historically conscious enough to grasp the threat of North Korea that has existed for decades.

Still, when Bowman attended a February test event at Bokwang Phoenix Park, where the freeskiing and snowboarding halfpipe contests will take place, no sense of impending doom imperiled her.

“When we went to South Korea, I felt safe,” Bowman told Yahoo Sports. “And in Russia, I felt pretty safe. I think as skiers, we obviously don’t see risk as a big thing in our lives. In talking with fellow athletes, it’s like, yeah, maybe the Olympics won’t happen, but it’s hard for us to see that risk. It’s not going to get in the way of my goals. I like to keep up with what’s going on in the world and am concerned with decisions we make as a country, but it’s not affecting my training.”

The chatter among fellow Olympians, Bowman said, centers more on the possibility of the PyeongChang Games being canceled rather than athletes pulling out because of concerns over the region’s stability.  [Yahoo Sports]

You can read more at the link, but unless an actual conflict breaks out I would be very surprised if the Winter Olympics is cancelled.

Picture of the Day: Pyeongchang Mascots Invade Times Square

PyeongChang mascots at Times Square

Suhorang (L) and Bandabi, mascots of 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics, pose with American children during an event to promote the event at Times Square in Manhattan, New York, on June 23, 2017. The Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) organized the event.  (Yonhap)

North Korean Minister Doubts A Joint North-South Olympic Team Can Be Fielded

I am sure if the ROK government funnels enough cash to Kim Jong-un then the decision to have a joint team can be expedited, that is what this current posturing is all about:

Chang Ung (R), an International Olympic Committee (IOC) member from North Korea, shakes hands with fellow IOC member Wu Ching-Kuo of Chinese Taipei (L) during the opening ceremony of the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) World Taekwondo Championships at Taekwondowon’s T1 Arena in Muju, North Jeolla Province, on June 24, 2017. (Yonhap)

A veteran North Korean sports administrator visiting South Korea has expressed his misgivings about forming a joint Korean team for next year’s Winter Olympics south of the border due to the time crunch.

Chang Ung, the North’s lone member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), is in South Korea for the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) World Taekwondo Championships, which opened in Muju, 240 kilometers south of Seoul, on Saturday. He traveled with a delegation from the North Korea-led International Taekwondo Federation (ITF), whose demonstration team performed at the WTF event’s opening ceremony.

Chang crossed the tense border just days after South Korea’s new sports minister, Do Jong-hwan, proposed forming a joint women’s hockey team and holding skiing events at North Korea’s Masikyrong resort during the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics.

As an IOC member, Chang has been peppered with questions about Do’s ideas. According to an official with the WTF competition, Chang spoke of his doubts about the South Korean minister’s suggestions.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link, but according to the article the North Koreans may not have anyone even qualify for the Winter Olympics to have a joint team with.  Another thing to keep in mind is that the Kim regime had previously wanted to host some of the Winter Olympics events at their new ski resort.  I wonder if this is something else that the current ROK government may try to pursue?

Korea Adds North American Born Hockey Players to Its National Team

Just another example of how the Olympics has become a professional sports league which even has its own free agency period:

Canadian-born ice hockey player Brock Radunske, second from right, speaks with his teammates in the national team in this file photo taken March 27, 2013 at the ice rink of the National Training Center in Seoul. / Korea Times photo by Shim Hyun-cheol

Since the Canadian-born ice hockey player Brock Radunske joined Anyang Halla to become the first naturalized Korean athlete, five more foreign-born players have migrated to Korea. Matt Dalton, Eric Reagan, Brian Young and Michael Swift are all from Canada and Mike Testwuide is American-born.

The six foreign-born athletes are now playing for Korea’s national team, making the once homogeneous team diverse. Foreign-born athletes account for nearly 25 percent of the 25-member men’s hockey team.

Jim Paek, the national hockey team manager, said diversity has made the men’s ice hockey team stronger.   [Korea Times]

You can read more at the link.

American Hopes to Represent South Korea at 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics

It is pretty clear that the Olympics have turned into a professional sports league considering how it has its own free agency period now for countries to recruit athletes from other countries:

South Korea’s figure skating pair Min Yu-ra (R) and Alexander Gamelin wait for their score in the ice dance free dance program after performing at the ISU Four Continents Figure Skating Championships in Gangneung, Gangwon Province, on Feb. 17, 2017. (Yonhap)

After a solid performance at an International Skating Union (ISU) competition here, South Korea’s figure skating pair Min Yu-ra and Alexander Gamelin said Friday they really want to compete in front of home crowds at the Winter Olympics next year.

Min and Gamelin, who have been skating together since 2015, finished eighth among 16 ice dance teams at the ISU Four Continents Figure Skating Championships in Gangneung, Gangwon Province, some 230 kilometers east of Seoul. The ISU competition, open to non-Europeans, is one of the test events for the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics.

“We received a lot of energy from home crowds even when our names were announced,” Min said. “Since the PyeongChang Olympics is going to be here, we expect lots of support from fans. We’re so excited.”

Min and Gamelin were also eighth last year, but this time they had a better score, improving 6.27 points from 2016 to finish with 144.69 points Friday.

“Last year, we didn’t have enough preparations because we had little time skating together,” Min said. “But this year, we prepared well. We wanted to get a better result than last year, but other teams skated better this time. We’re satisfied with the result today.”

Gamelin is an American citizen, but is seeking naturalization to compete at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics next year with Min.

At ISU competitions, as long as one member of a tandem is South Korean, that duo can compete under the South Korean flag. At the Olympics, however, both members of a team must be South Korean citizens to represent the country.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link.