En momentos en que la crisis global del COVID-19 se acelera grandes áreas del planeta, el Primer Ministro japonés Shinzo Abe ha tenido que aceptar la dura verdad y, con sensatez, ha tomado esta semana la iniciativa de decir a la Dieta (parlamento) que es probable que haya que reprogramar los Juegos Olímpicos de Verano, que se realizarán en Tokio. Finalmente llegó a un acuerdo con el Comité Olímpico Internacional (COI) para posponer el evento hasta 2021. (EL COI se había planteado cuatro semanas para decidir qué hacer).

Hasta hace poco, era comprensible la reticencia de Abe a retrasar los Juegos.…  Seguir leyendo »

With the coronavirus pandemic spiraling around the world, the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics are unlikely to go ahead as planned. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe all but threw in the towel at a news conference this week. He and various Olympic officials have repeatedly insisted that the Games will be held as planned in July and August, but this time he left the timing up in the air, suggesting he is resigned to a postponement. Then, on Thursday, NHK television broadcast Diet deliberations where Abe was pointedly questioned about exactly when the Games would be held, and again dodged the issue.…  Seguir leyendo »

Cancel. The. Olympics.

Despite the coronavirus pandemic, the International Olympic Committee and Tokyo 2020 Olympic organizers insist that the Tokyo 2020 Summer Games will go on. Even with widespread cancellations in European soccer, Formula One auto racing, and professional and collegiate basketball in the United States, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan vowed, “We will overcome the spread of the infection and host the Olympics without problem, as planned.”

While sports can create an escape hatch from the grit and grind of daily life, there is no escaping the fact that the coronavirus pandemic presents an extraordinary challenge that cannot be overcome with mere platitudes and prayers.…  Seguir leyendo »

Tokyo staff replace athletes during test events for the Olympics at the Aomi Urban Sports Park in early March. Christopher Jue/EPA

The World Health Organization’s decision to officially recognise the coronavirus outbreak as a global pandemic means organisers are facing difficult decisions on whether to go ahead with major sporting events. There were more than 124,000 cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, in 118 countries, and more than 4,600 documented deaths by March 12. This is a problem for sports events around the world – not least the Olympic Games, scheduled to start in Tokyo at the end of July.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the main approach to prevent the spread of coronavirus is social distancing and practising proper hand hygiene.…  Seguir leyendo »

‘It causes intentional harm to those who suffered.’ South Korean protesters tear Japanese rising sun flags at a protest in Seoul, South Korea, September 2019. Photograph: Lee Jin-man/AP

Imagine if, at the opening ceremony of the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics, the stadium were filled to capacity with fans waving the American Confederate flag. A similarly hurtful scene could become reality at the Tokyo Games next summer, if the Japanese “rising sun” flag is on display.

Japanese athletes and fans regularly sport their national flag – a red ball centred on white. The rising sun symbol is different, however. A red ball with 16 red rays, it is sometimes used by companies in advertisements, yet it is technically a military flag: from 1870 until the end of the second world war, it was imperial Japan’s war flag.…  Seguir leyendo »

Lorsque le 13 septembre 2017, à Lima, Paris fut choisie par le Comité international olympique (CIO) pour organiser les Jeux de 2024, la classe politique française quasi unanime – de la gauche à la droite communiant dans le même «idéal fédérateur» – commença à fantasmer sur le «rêve olympique» supposé enchanter la France, à l’unisson du président Macron, grand adepte de la mythologie sportive, de l’épopée du Tour de France et des «premiers de cordée». Les Jeux, parés de toutes les vertus, furent alors présentés comme une aubaine économique et une «révolution écologique». Nombreuses créations d’emplois, afflux de touristes, rénovations des transports, modernisation urbaine, «Jeux verts et vertueux», «limitation de la pollution», les promesses mirobolantes n’ont pas manqué. …  Seguir leyendo »

Lorsque les dirigeants des Corées du Nord et du Sud se réuniront le 27 avril, ce ne sera que le troisième sommet de ce genre depuis la fin de la guerre de Corée. Un moment rare dans notre monde polarisé. Il y a quelques mois encore, l’escalade des tensions politiques était vive et un risque d’affrontement militaire dans la péninsule coréenne existait. C’est à cette situation de crise, ponctuée de tirs de missiles, d’essais nucléaires et de discours belliqueux, que le monde et les Jeux olympiques d’hiver de Pyeongchang 2018 faisaient face à l’automne 2017. Pour expliquer le relâchement de ces tensions, il convient de considérer le rôle des Jeux olympiques.…  Seguir leyendo »

If you’ve been following coverage of the Winter Olympic Games on major international news outlets such as CNN, BBC and ABC, you might think that Kim Jong Un’s sister is kind and charming, that North Korean athletes are happy and liberated, or that Pyongyang is suddenly a peaceful, “normal” government interested in giving up power through diplomacy.

Don’t be fooled. The Olympics has been a PR dream come true for the murderous Kim dictatorship. South Korea’s Moon administration claims to be using the games to foster goodwill, but the reality is that the Hermit Kingdom has taken this opportunity to stage one of history’s great whitewashing operations, where the breathless focus is on the fashion style of the Dear Leader’s sister instead of his forced labor camps and police state.…  Seguir leyendo »

Todo empezó en un árido valle del Peloponeso. La idea fundacional consistía en confrontar las habilidades de los contendientes sin que corriera la sangre. Los ganadores se proclamaban a partir de medidas objetivas. Quién corría más, quién saltaba o lanzaba más lejos la jabalina o el disco. Se incluían carreras hípicas, pentatlón, lucha libre y otras modalidades reguladas de combate cuerpo a cuerpo. Los Juegos eran democráticos, es decir, abiertos a la participación de todos los ciudadanos libres. ¿Dónde estaba el lado oscuro?

Los Juegos ya se celebraban cada cuatro años. Eran mucho más importantes que en la actualidad. Atraían a miles de espectadores, comportaban treguas obligadas en las guerras, la paralización de la vida pública en las ciudades griegas.…  Seguir leyendo »

How to Fix Olympic Ice Hockey

Men’s ice hockey begins on Wednesday at the Winter Olympics — but without the world’s top players. For the first time since the 1994 games, National Hockey League players won’t be competing. It isn’t that they don’t want to play. The Canadian star Sidney Crosby, probably the best player in the world, put it this way: “I’d love to be there.” The Russian star Alex Ovechkin, who has participated in three Olympics, and Patrick Kane, one of the best American players, expressed a strong desire to compete, too.

But the National Hockey League says it now cannot “see what the benefit is” in Olympic participation, and insists that its players are contractually obliged to skip the games.…  Seguir leyendo »

Last week at the Olympics, despite the dogged efforts of Vice President Pence, human rights promotion lost out to intrigue as the world fawned over Kim Yo Jong, North Korea’s chief of propaganda and sister to dictator Kim Jong Un. But this year’s games are just the latest evidence the world has stopped viewing these international events as opportunities to highlight liberal values.

The power of the Olympics to be a platform for human rights advocacy was decimated after the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, when the Chinese government reneged on its promises by perpetrating a crackdown while the world stood idly by.…  Seguir leyendo »

As Olympics Open, Moon’s Warm Words for Pyongyang Alarm South Korea’s Allies

South Korean President Moon Jae-in has used the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, which begin today, to renew the dialogue with North Korea. The countries have formed a joint women’s hockey team and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s sister Kim Yo-jong, who is said to have strong ties with her brother, is attending the opening ceremony.

Such moves appeal to the people who voted for Moon in 2017, as he is widely known as a North Korea-friendly politician and was looking for opportunities to open a negotiation channel with Pyongyang. But his efforts have wider implications for South Korea’s foreign policy, most notably its relationships with Japan and the US.…  Seguir leyendo »

A visitor passes under LED light decorations ahead of the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games in Gangwon Province, South Korea, on Thursday. (Bloomberg News)

The opening of the Olympic Winter Games in South Korea comes at a time of increased regional tensions. North Korean nuclear and missile tests throughout 2017 — showcasing new capabilities — and harsh rhetoric from Pyongyang and Washington have put the region on edge.

The Games could play a calming role. North Korea will send athletes south, and the two Koreas will “march together in the opening ceremony and field a joint team in women’s ice hockey.” The official North Korean delegation includes Kim Jong Un’s sister and close adviser, Kim Yo Jong — a signal that the North may be taking this opportunity for meetings seriously.…  Seguir leyendo »

Will North Korea Win the Gold Medal for Deceit

A gaggle of young North Koreans in neon chased me down the mountain on skis, expertly skidding to a stop at my feet as I sat on the slope tightening my bindings.

They peppered me with questions: “What’s your name? How old are you? Where are you from? Are you married?”

It was 2014 and we were at Masikryong Ski Resort, a pet project of the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. The resort, a multimillion-dollar facility featuring luxury lodges and pristine slopes about 100 miles east of Pyongyang, had opened a few weeks earlier and I was there on a reporting trip — and to get a little snowboarding in.…  Seguir leyendo »

North Korea’s Lipstick Diplomacy

When North Korea’s 22 Olympians compete in Pyeongchang this month, they won’t be alone: Accompanying them will be 230 young North Korean women, all of them at least 5 feet 3 inches, all of them deemed “pretty” by the state.

Western news outlets have taken to calling these women an “army of beauties”; in South Korea, they are often “beautiful cheerleaders.” In reality, they are mostly students, selected from upper-class families in Pyongyang for their loyalty to the party, their musical talent and their looks. These women are deployed abroad by the regime on special occasions, when it wants to show its best face — or best faces, rather — to the world.…  Seguir leyendo »

Sports Diplomacy in the Korean Peninsula

North Korea’s decision to dispatch Kim Jong-un’s younger sister Yo-jong to South Korea (Republic of Korea, ROK) as part of a delegation to the PyeongChang Winter Olympics has opened up the possibility for the past month of sports diplomacy to garner something more substantive and lasting. With all parties to the Korean peninsula conflict sending senior delegations to South Korea for the Games, everyone should take a moment to give diplomacy a chance.

Kim Yo-jong’s visit is one outcome of high-level talks between the two Koreas during January, a process that started with Kim Jong-un using the annual North Korean leader’s address on 1 January to call for a successful New Year for both Koreas.…  Seguir leyendo »

North Korean cheering squads arriving at the Korean-transit office near the Demilitarized Zone in Paju, South Korea, this week. Credit Pool photo by Ahn Young-Joon

In the run-up to the Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, some South Koreans have been grumbling that this may as well be the “Pyongyang Games.”

Since the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, announced on Jan. 1 that he was interested in sending a delegation to the Games, there has been a flurry of inter-Korean agreements.

Twenty-two North Korean athletes will participate in the Olympics, and they will arrive with some 230 cheerleaders in tow. The two Koreas are fielding a joint women’s ice hockey team. And at the opening ceremony on Friday, they will march under a single flag, the Korean Unification Flag.…  Seguir leyendo »

Après un sprint à la conquête de la dissuasion nucléaire, Kim Jong-un avait bien besoin de souffler un peu. Les trois essais nucléaires et les plus de quarante tirs de missiles depuis début 2016 ont eu pour conséquences l’imposition à la Corée du Nord des sanctions internationales les plus sévères de l’ère onusienne ainsi qu’une escalade des tensions en Extrême-Orient. Le prix du pétrole dans le pays a, selon certaines sources, doublé ces trois derniers mois tandis que les rumeurs sur une possible opération militaire américaine se sont multipliées. Il était urgent de desserrer l’étau et de tenter une offensive diplomatique envers les Etats-Unis.…  Seguir leyendo »

An Olympic Truce Could Help Solve the Korea Crisis

In ancient Greece, any and all warfare would pause ahead of the Olympic Games so that athletes and spectators could travel safely to the big event.

That’s not too far from what’s happening on the Korean Peninsula. After a year of mounting tension, North and South Korea have stumbled into a period of self-imposed calm. It’s not just that in the lead-up to the Pyeongchang games, which start on February 9, the two neighbors have agreed to field a unified women’s hockey team and parade together at the opening ceremony under a single flag. It’s that they’ve quietly entered into a de facto Olympic truce.…  Seguir leyendo »

The 2018 Winter Olympics Are Already Tainted

The International Olympic Committee may have suspended Russia’s team from the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, over a system of doping. But the ruling — which allows Russian athletes to compete under a “neutral flag” — is a joke, a non-punitive punishment meant to save face while protecting the committee’s and Russia’s commercial and political interests.

I feel entitled to say this because I conducted the investigation on behalf of the World Anti-Doping Agency.

The 2016 report of the WADA investigation found that Russia operated a state-sponsored doping program on a level not seen since East Germany’s and, in the process, cheated hundreds of clean athletes of their rightful place on Olympic and World Championship pedestals.…  Seguir leyendo »