[EDITORIALS]Hallmark event in BusanThe Busan Asian Games ended 16 days of competition on Monday. It was the first international event held in a Korean city other than the nation's capital. The success of the Busan Asian Games is the result of the efforts of the 40,000 Busan citizens who rooted for participating nations, the dedication of 17,000 volunteers, and the high standard of civic consciousness of Busan citizens.
The significance of the Busan Asiad has been enhanced with the historic participation of more than 9,000 athletes and officials from all 44 member countries of the Olympic Council of Asia. The participation of countries like Afghanistan and East Timor, which are experiencing domestic instability and economic difficulties, deserves to be applauded.
North Korea sent 600 participants, an unprecedented move. It was moving to see the athletes of the two Koreas enter the stadium together, carrying Korean Peninsula flags, during both the opening and closing ceremonies. South Koreans did not display rejection toward the North Korean flag and its anthem. They rooted for the North Korean players when they went against other countries' athletes. Seeing such rare scenes might be possible only in sports. It is hoped that the Busan Asian Games will lay a stepping-stone for making inter-Korean sports and various other exchanges a regular occurrence.
The Busan Asiad produced 22 world records. South Korea garnered well over 80 gold medals to take second place. Some of our athletes struggled hard to prove themselves in obscure events. They were not very successful in field events and swimming, the basic events. China, Korea and Japan made the Asiad virtually a festival of three nations, which has reduced the significance of the Games.
With the Asian Games, the international status of Busan has been enhanced and the urban infrastructure has been very much improved. Some analyses suggest that the Asiad has brought over 10 trillion won ($8 billion) in economic benefits to Busan.
But the burden of maintaining the new stadium and other sports facilities remains a task to be tackled. The real success of the Busan Asian Games might depend on how effective are the solutions to the problems created by their success.