Dignitaries and delegations from around the world are arriving in South Korea for the start of the 2018 Winter Olympics.
While sportsmanship is expected from the athletes, global politics and posturing are already playing out on the sidelines.
CGTN’s Jim Spellman explains the tensions and scandals casting a shadow over the Games.
Thousands of athletes representing a record 92 countries are expected to compete at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea.
The first group of Chinese athletes has arrived in Pyeongchang ahead of the Olympics. China is sending 82 athletes to compete in 55 events in 12 sports.
“I feel proud. I hope the athletes can fully demonstrate their skills during the games, and I do not think there will be big fluctuations. I hope they can come here happily and return with satisfaction,” Wang Xiuli, coach of the Chinese speed skating team said.
Thirteen Russian athletes and 2 coaches accused of violating anti-doping rules will not attend the Olympics. In December the International Olympic Committee banned Russia from competing in the 2018 Olympics as punishment anti-doping violations. Last week the Court of Arbitration for Sports, known as CAS, found there was insufficient evidence the athletes violated the rules. The Russians hoped this would open the door for the Russians to compete but the IOC is sticking with its decision.
Russian MFA Spokesperson #Zakharova: IOC has refused to allow 15 Russian athletes coaches to participate in the 2018 Winter Olympics even after they were acquitted by CAS. This decision raises a question: maybe it is time for the IOC members themselves to be tested for doping? pic.twitter.com/zwBx5xrjke
— Russia in RSA 🇷🇺 (@EmbassyofRussia) February 5, 2018
“We applied the same strict procedure after the extremely disappointing CAS (the Court of Arbitration for Sport) decisions upholding a number of appeals. The privilege to be invited requires more than just the absence of a sanction, so we have not invited them,” said Thomas Bach, President of the IOC.
In the spirit of the Olympics, the ROK and DPRK are fielding a joint women’s hockey team, hoping that cooperation on the ice may lead to cooperation in reducing tensions on the Korean Peninsula. The team has been practicing and learning to work together.
“Hockey really does bring people together. sports as cliche as it is, sports really does bring people together. And on our team they’re just players, there is no North Korean or South Korean. They are all wearing the same jersey they are all on the same team,” said Sarah Murray, the Korea Women’s Hockey Coach.
The two countries have declared a symbolic truce scheduled to run through the Olympics. Pyongyang is sending a high level delegation led by Kim Yong Nam, the head of parliament. Kim will be the highest ranking DPRK official to ever visit the ROK.
Leading the U.S. delegation to the games is Vice President Mike Pence. According to the White House, Pence will seek to send a message that the U.S. intends to remain tough on the DPRK.
Honored that Fred Warmbier, father of Otto Warmbier, will join us at @pyeongchang2018 in S Korea. He & his wife remind the world of the atrocities happening in N Korea. As @POTUS made clear at the #SOTU, we pledge to honor Otto’s memory w/ American resolve https://t.co/LlPMt6SvMh
— Vice President Mike Pence (@VP) February 5, 2018