BOSTON — The opening ceremonies of the 23rd Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea begin Thursday night. In theory, the Games serve as a refuge from the geopolitical environment of the times. Nations put aside their conflicts and disagreements for what is supposed to be a peaceful and civil celebration of sport and competition.
The reality is that this is rarely true. From Jesse Owens defying Hitler at the 1929 Games in Berlin to American sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos defiantly raising their fists in protest at the Mexico City Games of 1968 to the deadly Israeli hostage crisis at the 1972 Games in Munich, the Games have always been tinged with politics.
This year’s Olympic Games will be no different. The issue most obviously underpinning the whole Games is the escalating tensions between North Korea and South Korea (and their allies), which is only further exacerbated by the Games being held on the Korean peninsula. In the weeks and months leading up to the Games, it has often felt like a ‘two steps forward, one step back’ kind of situation between the two conflicted nations.