Pursue dreams secretly
The author is deputy editor of the international, diplomacy and security news at the JoongAng Ilbo.
Boycotting the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics almost brought catastrophe. The reason is simple. It violates the Olympic Charter, which serves as the constitution for the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Article 10 of the by-law to Rule 44 states, “The withdrawal of a duly entered delegation, team or individual shall, if effected without the consent of the IOC Executive Board, constitute an infringement of the Olympic Charter, and be subject to an inquiry, and may lead to measures or sanctions.”
When I inquired with Lausanne University professor and IOC expert Jean-Loup Chapplet, he responded that a boycott was a clear violation of the charter. Chapplet is an expert whose book publishing party is attended by IOC President Thomas Bach. I emailed and called 10 IOC experts and officials, and they all responded the same.
The international community’s response is perplexed as the Democratic Party (DP) and many Koreans consider boycotting the Tokyo Olympics as the Korea-Japan relations worsen. With less than a year left before the games, boycotting for a reason unrelated to the Olympics is a proclamation of the will to be sanctioned by the IOC.
International sports circles were not happy with the proposal of Seoul and Pyongyang co-hosting the Olympics. It was so even before North Korea’s series of missile provocations. Chapplet said that it is theoretically possible but realistically impossible. An IOC official who wants to remain anonymous said it was an attempt without feasibility. Games Bid editor Robert Livingston expressed doubts about staging the Olympics in North Korea, a country oppressing human rights. IOC reporter Keir Radnedge said it is “a card that will only benefit domestic politicians.” Terence Burns and Stratos Safioleas — consultants who contributed to winning our bid for the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics — said that it would be meaningful to open a new chapter in history. But they put a condition that it is worth attempting if involved parties are engaged in a secret PR campaign after separating politics from the Olympics.
Some Koreans have hopes for a co-hosted 2032 Olympics as IOC President Bach is ambitious and willing. However, convincing the IOC is not that easy. It is the atmosphere in and out of the IOC that Bach himself would not reach that far as his re-election is soon at stake.
It is fortunate that the government and the Korean Sport and Olympic Committee clarified that there would be no boycott of the Tokyo Games. In his Liberation Day address, President Moon said that the 2032 Seoul-Pyongyang Olympics should be successful, and on the Tokyo Olympics, it would be a perfect chance for friendship and cooperation. So if you dream of a 2032 Seoul-Pyongyang Olympics, I hope you first silence the controversy surrounding domestic politics. A great dream can be dreamt if it is pursued secretly.
JoongAng Ilbo, Aug. 21, Page 28