North’s antics are a terrible sequel

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North’s antics are a terrible sequel

How many times have we watched athletes with a healthy body fat percentage perform extraordinary feats that would take a lifetime ― and even the next if you are a Buddhist ― for you and me to achieve? Along with an athlete’s achievements, physical appearance provides a little extra spice. Anna Kournikova, who ranks outside the top 100 in women’s tennis, is living proof of this.
Nevertheless, all the brouhaha surrounding the North Korean cheerleaders at the Daegu games is way out of proportion. Never mind that they are not even contestants.
Maybe it is just part of a Byzantine plot to foster better relations with the North on every front, but it is time reporters scouted out better stories than this. How about the world-class North Korean female soccer team? How this team was able to become a world power in women’s soccer seems to make a much more interesting tale.
Okay, okay, the North Korean cheering squad does carry an exotic flavor. I will grant you that. The North Koreans are the undisputed masters of group robotics; if there were a world championship for mass behavior, they would be champs. Nobody can match these cheerleaders in their coordinated placard-waving, and that includes the former Soviet Union, who ruled such games for years but have slipped since becoming democratic Russia.
Seeing these girls clapping, singing and dancing in unison might be eye-catching, but only the first time you see it. Now it is an old story, one that deserved no more than a brief. (Taking my own advice, I am going to cut this short.)
Still, newspapers are wasting oceans of ink arguing whether some of these lovely ladies had plastic surgery. This has to stop! Spending more time to investigate why some nations are complaining at the taekwondo matches would make more sense. This has been a problem for quite some time. Having watched some of these events I certainly can understand why.
By now, we have witnessed how political these sports festivals can become, at the risk of tarnishing the true spirit of sports competition, where nothing but the athletes and their accomplishments should matter.
Just when we thought everything was on track, thanks to an official apology by President Roh Moo-hyun over anti-North Korean demonstrations in South Korea before the games opened, part two of the apology-or-else from a minatory Pyeongyang unfolded on Sunday as conservative demonstrators from the South scuffled with North Korean reporters. Another demand for an apology and another “We are sorry” from the Universiade’s committee ended that ruckus.
I don’t want to think about part three of this Rambo-like series because, just like those movies, the acting by the North is very bad.
The government should have taken necessary measures to prevent such a fracas. There are so many things that could be addressed, but the South has sidestepped issues, like the human rights situation in the North, to keep up a dialogue. Maybe it is time to ask the hard questions.
Samoa, a tiny island nation in the Pacific, sent just one athlete to Daegu. For nations like these participation itself is a cause for celebration. If you value anything other than that, you should not be there.

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