Opinion: The Olympics Unify the World
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The world is burdened by conflict everywhere: hate and civil wars throughout the Middle East, diplomatic nightmares between nuclear states, and political turmoil everywhere we look. Natural disasters and tragedies plague our world. We live on a planet that has become increasingly divisive everyday.
On Feb. 9, however, we could escape from the friction. Pyeongchang, South Korea, stepped into the world’s spotlight for two weeks as the host of the Winter Olympic Games from Feb. 9 until Feb. 25.
Pyeongchang is only 60 miles south of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that separates North and South Korea. Notably, the two countries do not get along.
Kim Jong Un, leader of North Korea, has become increasingly aggressive in his nuclear testing and large displays of his military power. Un has worried people around the world, but then something amazing happened. They walked out under one flag during the Opening Ceremonies. One South Korean and one North Korean showed off a unifying display of leading both countries’ athletes around the stadium together, side by side.
It’s stunning to see two divided nations come together and unite as one. Decades upon decades of hate and vitriol between the two, suddenly eased. Upon viewing the picture of the two athletes holding the flag together, I could feel the tensions loosen, even if for only a couple of weeks. It’s by no means the end, but a start nonetheless.
In addition to the Koreas, 90 other nations will compete in this year’s games, according to Travel and Leisure. Other international tensions such as Palestinian nations and Israel or the U.S.A. and the Russian athletes or North Korea are also suddenly eased. Although Russia was banned by the IOC, independent Russian athletes are able to compete, according to the Guardian. Despite that, the Games will be able to relieve tensions between such nations. Israeli and Iranian athletes will compete side by side. American and North Koreans will face each other. Peacefully. Fairly.
African nations such as Eritrea or Nigeria, along with countries like Lebanon, can escape their domestic conflicts and show off their countries’ athletic greatness. The athletes can be at peace and the people can be proud of what their nation can be. Although the conflicts may still trudge along, at least there is positivity and accomplishment for these nations in times of hardship.
The Olympics are two weeks of escape. Escape from turmoil and disagreements, war and separation. The Games offer so much more than entertainment; they offer hope, peace, and unity. If even for a short time, they are there. We as a world can come together and be proud of our country, while also being proud to be human. Proud to live on this earth with hundreds of other countries.
For two weeks we can be reminded of what peace is. Of what a unified world can be.
Ethan Hill, senior, is a Staff Reporter. Outside of writing for the Messenger, Ethan runs cross country and plays tennis for Marquette. In his free time...