Wednesday, November 2, 2005

North and South to have joint Olympic team in Beijing

Everyone is reporting that Seoul and Pyongyang have decided to present a joint North-South team at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and the 2006 Asian Games in Qatar.

I know some doomsayers (of the US-ROK relationship) are going to point to this and talk about how a joint North-South team is yet another sign that Seoul is blindly making nice with Pyongyang. But it should be pointed out that the fantasy of joint Olympic events goes back at least to the 1988 Seoul Olympiad, and that was when Korea was ruled by generals-turned-president.

At any rate, I don't think this is a done deal. An awful lot can happen between now and 2008 (or even 2006). I think that ultimately there won't be anything more than walking into the stadium together.

In fact, I think that, in the long run, this is going to be bad for mindless supporters of North-South relations. The North will probably back out, leaving someone in Seoul with egg on their face.

On the other hand, if they don't back out, then some qualified South Korean athletes will probably get booted off the joint team to make room for the North Korean athletes. I'm not saying South Korean athletes are all better than North Korean athletes, but this is way too much politics (with a murderous dictatorship, I should add) to be toying with the future of so many people who have worked so hard to go to the Olympics.


  1. If you make Olympic qualifying standards then you will be going to the Olympics, simple as that. No kicking you off the team to make way for someone of less standard. Team sports may be a problem, however this is a problem that has been faced before. I think it's great.

  2. I'm not entirely sure how placements are decided, but let's say EVERYONE on the North and South Korean teams qualified, then the joint team would be allowed twice as many slots for individual sports (like diving or badminton or the marathon)?

    Anyway, those team sports ARE a problem. That's a big problem, and it will blow up in someone's face.

    I don't like this idea. I used to, but not anymore. This represents a deterioration of South Korean standards.

    South Korea is curbing its zeal for human rights in order to make nice with North Korea. This is wrong. The two are NOT the same country, and if South Korea wants to make nice, it has to bring North Korea in its direction.

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  4. Yup, as long as you make the qualifying standards you can send as many people as you can afford. That's why America sends about 25 000 people to the olympics and we send a couple of hundred.
    I favour engagement and sport is a really good way to do it. The only way to stop the human rights' violations are engagement or 'liberation' by military means. I know which I prefer.

  5. I commented about this back on the Marmot's Hole. I'm not enthralled by the idea, mainly because it seems like such a superficial gesture to me, especially in light of the human rights issues, the permanent state of war, etc. ...And the repeated tendency of the North to get kudos for agreeing to do something in talks, then let the initiative slowly die through follow-up talks that never resolve anything. (The best example I can think of are the land transportation links agreed to in 2000 that still have not materialized, except to serve the South Korean outposts at Kaesông and Kûmgangsan.)

    There's another issue someone might have raised somewhere as well. Let's say they actually do manage to field a joint team. How is it going to work out if a Southern player has to work under a Northern coach, or vice versa? All kinds of tensions could arise that don't in the other highly controlled situations in which the two countries interact.

  6. Marmot's moved? So that's what happened.

    I do still read, even though I rarely ever write anything (not like anyone noticed). The atmosphere is just so... I just feel too often that it's futile to write anything there.

    When I have time and I feel the need, I prefer to give my take on those issues here on my own blog.


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