Opening Ceremony Brings Unity Even While Walls Still Stand


Anna Farris, freshman reads an New York Times Article on the Opening Ceremony. The start to the 2018 Games began on February 9th with the Opening Ceremony welcoming all far and near. “I love every aspect of the Games,” Farris said. “This year, I feel the Games are even more special as history is being made, it’s really cool to watch all the countries come together with a sense of unity, and seeing that is why I the Games mean so much to me.”

Anjelica Rubin, Staff Writer

Torchbearers from North and South Korea carried the Olympic flame on February 9th, marking a unified nation as the official start of the 23rd Olympic Winter Games began. Pyeongchang, South Korea the selected country for 2018 won the right to hold the Games after two previously unsuccessful attempts. Located 80 miles east of the country’s capital, Seoul, and 60 miles from the Demilitarized Zone that separates North Korea, controversy sparked as many were unsure of how unified the two nations would be. But the two delegations, in the middle of a nuclear crisis,  held the flag together while the athletes walked hand and hand into the opening ceremony.

As the world watched, reactions about a unified Korea differed. “I think the walk in together will help reduce the tension that will clearly be in the air,” Anna Faris, freshman said. “I don’t know the entire impact of what this means, but I do know that through all the differences between the two delegations, North and South Korea both have showed enough interest to wave their flags together and make a gesture before the entire watching world that they can come together.”

Whereas in recent Olympic Games, summer and winter alike, have successfully stayed away from political drama, recent events leading up to Pyeongchang have been unavoidable. Kim Yo-jong, the younger sister of the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un sat closely behind Vice President Mike Pence who represented the United States delegation as North Korea participated in the Winter Games for the first time in eight years. North Korea’s 22 participating athletes included a dozen women’s ice hockey players who played alongside their South Korean counterparts on what would be the first unified Korean team at an international sporting event since 1991.   

“I think that it shows a lot of progressive movement, the opening ceremony always brings a sense of unity between the countries that participate, but especially so in Pyeongchang as North Korea is participating for the first time in years,” Kaden Litzinger, sophomore said. “ Although every Olympic Games are different, the opening ceremony only proves that everyone can be brought together and be unified in some way for at the least a couple of hours.”

The mounting political drama has continued to loom over other Olympic storylines as well, including the participation of Russian athletes despite the ban in the aftermath of the nation’s doping scandal. In December, the International Olympic Committee banned Russia from sending a team under the country’s flag after operating a state-sponsored program to enhance athletic performance during Sochi 2014. Many individual Russian athletes were still able to compete but only under the Olympic flag. Named the “Olympic Athletes from Russia,” if a representing athlete from Russia should win a gold medal,  the Olympic anthem and flag shall be displayed.

Litzinger added, Although I could see how Russia’s federation and athletes would like far more credit at the Games due to the work that the country has put in to make it to the Games in the first place, they disrespected Olympic protocol intentionally, and for what? To enhance athletic performance? That’s what frustrates me the most, it’s illegal but more importantly ignorant. ”

“Does it change my opinion, no. I feel very strongly that Russia deserved this punishment for what they did four years ago,” Farris said. “This is just another example of sport and politics becoming intertwined, for good or bad this is a pattern that has consistently been in the news, and they [Russian federation] must face the consequences based off of their actions in 2014.”

Politics have always played a vital role in sports, and this years Olympics continue the trend. Many viewers often get swept up in the great gusts of content that the T.V. displays, and don’t stop often enough to consider what the Games mean. Every two years the biggest event in the sport world returns with bigger, better athletes that continue the competitive spirit on the biggest stage. For the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Games, an unavoidable backdrop reminds all that international sport can be political and will have aspects in which the two coincide. While many watch the games for the excitement it brings, others look on as the world comes together, offering a perspective so essential in the political world humanity lives in now.