12 February 2018

South Africa: The Koreas - Games On and Off the Field As Winter Olympics Offer a Chance to Thaw Relations


Here we are again with the quadrennial Winter Olympic Games - this time in PyeongChang, South Korea. But some astonishing diplomatic developments may be an even bigger story than the games themselves. J. BROOKS SPECTOR takes a slalom down memory lane and looks at the North-South Korean developments as well as the fact that even South Africa is represented this year at the Olympics.

Back in 1985, the author was perched precariously at the starting point for the Olympic men's downhill skiing course, located just beyond downtown Sapporo, Japan. (Sapporo had hosted the games in 1972 and the infrastructure had been kept up as part of the city's tourism efforts). From the finish line at the bottom of the hill, the course had looked rather long and daunting but still manageable, even for a novice skier, just as long as one moved carefully down that mountainside slope and didn't take undue risks.

But perched at the top of the course, it felt like one was perched at the edge of a precipitous, near-90-degree drop, down a treacherous, life-threatening mountainside course, expressly designed to maim or even kill the unwary.

Nevertheless, once one was there, a kind of honour was involved,...

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