Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Korea to field joint Olympic squad?

The two feuding Koreas are in negotiations to field a joint team at the upcoming Bejing Olympic games. At the Athens 'o4 Games, the two Korean teams marched together in the opening ceremony (click pic to enlarge) but fielded different squads for the actual competition. The idea is a long time coming. Sports Illustrated:
Still technically at war after the 1950-53 war ended with no peace treaty, the two Koreas first considered competing as a joint team at the 1964 Tokyo Games, but years of acrimony and military tensions meant it remained just an idea.
The talks aren't going well and it has nothing to do with the recent chatter of a North Korean missile test. The sticking point is actually over team selection. Korea Times:
A key question for the talks will be whether the joint team will seek a fair balance of athletes from the North and South or put together the most competitive team possible. At the 2004 Olympics in Athens, South Korea won 30 medals, including nine golds, while North Korea tallied five with no golds. If slots for athletes are allocated on a quota system by country, the unified team would likely be less competitive and create bitterness among top athletes left out of the squad.
The International Olympic Committee is leaning hard on both sides to field a joint squad, which is a good sign. If you think the IOC doesn't wield a shitload of foreign policy clout consider South Africa was barred from taking part in the '64 Olympics in Tokyo over its refusal to condemn apartheid. The ban was lifted in 1992, by which point South Africa had a black president.

So when IOC president Jacques Rogge says it an imperative that the two sides hammer out a deal, i am encouraged... ..especially since the next Games are in China, one of the few countries w ith meaty diplomatic ties to both Koreas. In any event, at least this is a welcome distraction from the usual bullshit I read about Korea all the time.

I love the Olympics, I love geopolitics, and mostly I love having something to write about besides our lousy president!

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