One of the worst OlympicsOlympic athletes compete after four years of hard training due to their faith in fair judging of their games. Ensuring a level playing field for athletes is a prerequisite for any international sports event — and the very bedrock of the Olympic tradition.
At the Beijing Winter Games, however, this cherished part of the Olympic spirit has shown itself absent from the early stage. The short track speed skating events on Monday were full of unfair judgments on skaters from the beginning. As a result, a Chinese skater with no record of taking first place in the preliminaries and semifinals won a gold medal after competitors with better skills were disqualified for committing fouls.
The beneficiaries of these biased judgments were Chinese athletes. Could that be simple coincidence? Short track speed skaters from Korea, Hungary and other countries were just pawns to help Chinese skaters win. The Olympics have transformed into a national sporting event for China.
The Beijing Olympics echoed with all the noise from the organizing committee’s immature ways of operating games and excessive control of athletes from around the world. Another controversy involved the political agenda of the Communist Party of China (CPC), as clearly seen in a reception hosted by Chinese President Xi Jinping for other heads of state and high-profile guests after the opening ceremony. The arrangement of seats for them reminded us of the archaic relationship between a Chinese emperor and representatives of vassal states. That directly goes against diplomatic norms — and even drew criticism from countries under China’s influence.
China may have wanted to flex its muscles by forcing its guests to take its side and invalidate the diplomatic boycott led by the United States. Among the attendees of the reception was our National Assembly speaker Park Byeong-seug. The Moon Jae-in administration may have succeeded in drawing China’s attention to the country by sending him to Beijing. But the seat China assigned to him was way lower than the seat a Chinese representative received from Seoul during the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics. We wonder if the government really tried to help China achieve its own political goals.
Given all the alarming developments in Beijing, the Winter Games could be remembered as one of the worst Olympics in history. We hope China recognizes its errors, works to dispel such concerns and rekindle the Olympic spirit before it is too late. But we’re not holding our breath. In the meantime, we look forward to seeing Korean athletes do their best in Beijing.