Sports bring people, nations, and cultures together in a way nothing else can. Ironically enough, competition can mend the injured athlete and turn foes into friends… as long as everyone plays by the rules. If playing by the rules is a prerequisite, North Korea should get the Pete Rose treatment.
Just earlier this month, South Korean sports minister Do Jong-hwan and president Moon Jae-in floated the ill-advised idea that they should share olympic venues with their northern neighbor. The idea being that cohosting the games would ease tensions between the isolated and oppressive regime and the rest of the world. Both Moon and Jong-hwan could really use a history lesson.
Unfortunately, Winston Churchill isn't around to remind them about that time the world allowed Nazi Germany to host the olympics– a move that allowed Hitler to spread his gross message of ethnic purity from sport's largest stage.
“Thereafter [World War I] mighty forces were adrift, the void was open, and into that void after a pause there strode a maniac of ferocious genius, the repository and expression of the most virulent hatreds that have ever corroded the human breast — Corporal Hitler.” – Winston Churchill
If an agreement is reached to host some events at the DPRK's Masikryong Ski Resort, it would send the same message– validating a dictator whose previously enslaved citizens, forced abortions on the female population, and killed foreign nationals with the most recent example coming in the form of United States citizen and political prisoner, Otto Warmbier. Warmbier was reportedly starved and tortured during his imprisonment before being sent back to the United States in a coma. He died shortly after landing on US soil.
And while many Olympic supporters will echo the same sentiment that United States Olympic Committee president Avery Brundage held in 1936, they would be wrong to say that "politics has no place in sport."
Brundage, the United States key Olympic representative allegedly pulled Jewish athletes from the 1936 Olympiad in order to pacify Hitler after African American track athlete Jesse Owens won multiple events.
In fact sports have directed some of the biggest political movements in history (*see civil rights). By hosting events in North Korea, South Korea and the IOC would alienate countless, free nation states in order to ease tensions with a ruthless dictator.
But what's worse than overlooking their countless human rights violations is the fact that cohosting would give Kim Jong-Un's tyrannical regime the opportunity to promote its inhumane and delusional world view at the games. Consider me skeptical but North Korea does not exemplify the goal of the Olympics, which is to "contribute to building a peaceful and better world… which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play."
Last time I checked, torturing innocent people to the point of death isn't 'fair play'and South Korea better respect that fact before making an Olympic sized mistake.