Diversity shines where?
It is unfortunate and embarrassing how the recent Incheon Asian Games succeeded in bringing nothing more than massive shame to South Korea. The quadrennial event that ended on Oct. 5 received catcalls around the world that Incheon held a “school sports day” and not a worldwide event.
There were three main reasons why Incheon failed to meet its own high expectations: over-dependency on K-wave, not enough domestic promotion and management issues. This last point is the most significant.
As the host country of such an event where various countries are gathered under the name of sports, Incheon should have paid more attention to their attitude toward foreign countries. Untrained volunteers, incapable translators and a shortage of locker rooms for the athletes was just the start.
When the training room for the Japanese football team didn’t have a locker room and, therefore, athletes were unable to shower after their training, a Japanese official called South Korea a “developing country,” a reference obviously loaded with national antagonism, adding that most training venues at developing countries were like this.
Thailand’s baseball team also wasn’t able to receive some decent respect from Incheon. Since South Korea, Japan and Taiwan are the strongest countries in baseball, I believe that we should have been more thoughtful to those countries by providing them with proper environments to practice. Yet we were inconsiderate and arrogant enough to not even turn on the stadium lights for their night practice.
We are living in an era where it’s typical to say that we should accept and embrace diversity. Yet we failed to act as the host country to fulfill the slogan “Diversity shines here.” A professor from Keimyung University said, “We should be able to carefully estimate what we can achieve and earn from hosting a sporting event. Of course, it will not be only about financial gains, but also other indirect benefits.”
Before we worry about other benefits, we should change our behavior toward the countries we invite and treat them properly. We should recover from the international shame that we spread at the upcoming Pyeongchang Winter Olympics by concentrating on management and by appreciating the fellow countries that are coming to our country with low expectations.
by Koo Ji-min, Student at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies
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