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Winter Olympics: A Hot Mess

The+upcoming+2018+Winter+Olympic+games+have+been+plagued+by+political+and+ideological+confrontations.+
The upcoming 2018 Winter Olympic games have been plagued by political and ideological confrontations.

The upcoming 2018 Winter Olympic games have been plagued by political and ideological confrontations.

Courtesy of Fortune

Courtesy of Fortune

The upcoming 2018 Winter Olympic games have been plagued by political and ideological confrontations.

Jack Cline, Sentry Staff Reporter

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The winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea have been the fuel to both various controversies and much excitement. With more than 200 countries competing, the Olympics have been a global practice for more than a century. The Games are organized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which prides itself on bringing countries and ethnicities together. From the World Wars to the Kosovo Wars, the Olympics have proceeded during the darkest of times. From the Ancient Greeks to the modern world, the Games have served as the embodiment of athletic competition.  

The upcoming 2018 Winter Olympic games have been plagued by political and ideological confrontations. Whether it is about substance abuse scandals with Russian athletes, fear of provoking North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, or American national security concerns in the region, politics has found a way to mingle with this festivity. Tension escalated when President Donald Trump tweeted on his failure to compromise with the North Korean leadership over nuclear missile testing in the region. United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley also shared concerns over stability in the region, claiming it was an “open question” as to whether the U.S. would participate in the Games.

Over the past 15 years, economists have analyzed the economic impact on host cities and countries. While many believe that host cities have thrived following the Games, there have also been adverse effects. Certainly, there is no denying a significant increase in national exports and nonprofit success due to a corporate presence in host cities. However, almost two million people have been displaced over the last 20 years due to the rising cost of housing and evictions as a result of corporate presence in these towns and villages. Additionally, the previous winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia in 2014, cost an excess of $50 million. Many hoped this would spark the Russian economy in the southern region, but instead, the Games came and left, leaving the area the same way it was before, a “ghost town.”

In 2016, three finalists competed for the chance to host the Games: Annecy, Munich, and Pyeongchang. Korea, having tried for the 2010 and 2014 Olympics, was selected in an overwhelming majority. The competition will host 102 events and 15 different sports, with some additions being big air snowboarding, doubles curling, mass start speed skating and team alpine skiing. This is also the first time since the 1990s that the National Hockey League (NHL) will not adjust its schedule to allow professional players to compete. Due to opposition from team owners and general managers, the NHL season will carry on through February for the first time since 1998. The decision was extremely unpopular amongst individual players, many of whom have never had the opportunity to represent their nations in the Games.

The Games will be aired by National Broadcast Company (NBC), with Mike Tirico taking over for long-time host Bob Costas. The opening ceremony will take place on Friday, February 9, one day after the first events. Following an address from the South Korean head of state, the tradition of the torch-bearing will signify the start of a new era in winter sports. This year, the Games are estimated to be the most costly yet with a budget at around $2.4 billion. Along with slow ticket sales, this has left the committee $267 million short leaving many questions about the popularity of the Games.

The Olympics were on pace to attract more viewers, and ticket sales spiked from 2.8 million in 2012 to 4.4 million in 2016. This year, ticket sales have fallen short and as of December 10, 2017, only 55% have been sold. Experts have speculated that the sharp decline may be due to security and environmental concerns in East Asia. This year, environmentalists have expressed their frustrations because of the deforestation that comes with building winter sports courses. Overall, the cost of attending the Games has become more and more expensive, and fans have voiced their disapproval with rising prices. In addition to airfares and hotel expenditures, the Olympic experience can cost fans thousands of dollars. This season, the Games are shaping up to be quite the experience, even if that comes at the cost of the integrity of competition.

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Winter Olympics: A Hot Mess