Boycott the Tokyo Olympics?Ruling party members have become unrestrained in their response to Japanese trade barriers, demanding to scrap a military intelligence sharing pact and proposing a travel ban to Tokyo and other parts in Japan. The Democratic Party (DP) even moved to campaign to boycott the 2020 Summer Olympics in Japan. Some members have ignored their Chairman Lee Hae-chan who opposed the idea of the party taking political action against sports exchanges.
Rep. Shin Dong-keun, the DP’s chief representative to the National Assembly Culture, Sports and Tourism Committee, plans to table the boycott issue in the next party-government meeting. He has been pitching the idea on social media and his radio talk show. He claims that a boycott will be considered depending on the results of a safety probe into nuclear radioactivity in and around Tokyo.
Rep. Choi Jae-sung, head of the party’s special committee on Japan’s trade restrictions, also urged Tokyo to address radiation concerns before hosting the Summer Olympiad.
The DP leadership has moved to rein in the extreme movements led by hawkish members. Chairman Lee and other senior members expressed concerns about the Olympic boycott campaign and the fiasco of the Jung district office hoisting up “No Japan” banners in downtown streets.
The talk itself is senseless and irresponsible. The ruling party’s reckless anti-Japan campaign could ruin any diplomatic efforts to avoid a full-blown economic war with Japan. The Moon Jae-in administration and the ruling party must act in a more sophisticated and reasonable way in the face of a national crisis.
In fact, neither the government nor the ruling party has any authority to boycott the Olympics. The decision is entirely up to the Korean Sport & Olympic Committee. The International Olympic Committee convention disallows any political involvement. The ruling party has no say in the affair. North Korea and Cuba did not participate in the 1988 Seoul Olympics on purely political grounds. The two gained nothing from their protest.
The Olympics is an international sports event that transcends political, racial and religious differences. Politicians must stop their reckless campaign if they have any respect for the young athletes who have been devoting their lives to be in the next Olympics.
JoongAng Ilbo, Aug. 8, Page 30