[EDITORIALS]No place for politics in sportsThe 2003 Summer Universiade in Daegu, where young athletes from 174 countries around the world forged friendship and harmony, has ended. The event, supposedly a festival for world university students, was operated and reported as if the games were a celebration for the two Koreas only. That was not a mature or appropriate practice and we should learn a lesson from that.
The two Koreas marched together for the opening ceremony, following the precedents of the Sydney Olympics in 2000, the Busan Asian Games last year and the Aomori Winter Asian Games early this year. That heightened the expectation that the two Koreas would march together again and form a unified team for the Athens Olympic Games next year. It was encouraging that the two Koreas affirmed their reconciliation, cooperation, trust and friendship through sports. But outside the sports arena, the North threatened to boycott the games after some South Korean activists burned its flag. It is regrettable that politics overwhelmed the sports festival.
Moreover, the media and citizens focused their attention on the two Koreas, particularly the beautiful North Korean cheerleaders, instead of emphasizing the sports event itself, making the games look like a domestic festival. The two Koreas should reconsider their behavior in creating such an atmosphere, which was inappropriate for a world festival.
“Conservatives attempted to drive us out from Daegu through dirty tricks and plots, but we maintained our patience to end the games fruitfully,” Jang Jeong-nam, the head of the North Korean delegation, said yesterday. That is an inappropriate comment since it gives the impression that the North was doing its best to politicize the sports event from beginning to end. Those who exercised endless patience were not the North Koreans, but the majority of South Koreans, particularly Daegu residents, and the athletes from around the world.
“Dream for Unity” was the games’ slogan. We expect the two Koreas have learned a lesson this time, and will forge true reconciliation and cooperation through sports, not politics, based on tolerance in the future.