Will the 2018 Winter Olympics Be a Sh*t Show?


Kate Harveston

Kate Harveston is originally from Williamsport, PA and holds a bachelor's degree in English. She enjoys writing about health and social justice issues. When she isn't writing, she can usually be found curled up reading dystopian fiction or hiking and searching for inspiration. If you like her writing, follow her blog, So Well, So Woman.

Related Post Roulette

56 Responses

  1. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    Would this be the wrong time to make a joke about Norovirus turning it into a literal shitshow?Report

  2. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    (Sarcasm on) The Olympic Committee would gladly let you know that Dr. Nassar’s activities do not disparage the 2017 Winter Olympics in South Korea because gymnastics is a summer Olympics event. (Sarcasm off).Report

  3. Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

    Consensus view: What was the last Olympics, Summer or Winter, that was not some manner of shitshow?Report

    • Avatar Michael Cain says:

      2012 London? 2010 Vancouver? 2002 Salt Lake City?Report

      • Avatar Maribou says:

        Not London. Lots of shitshow news about London at the time, and that’s also tainted in retrospect by Nassar, since he seems to have been at his abusive heights back then.Report

        • Avatar J_A says:

          The London Olympics are the only one I have personally attended, and I can’t think of anything better conducted while it was going on (*). It was an absolute joy, made better by tens of thousands of volunteers making not only the venues but every lonely tube station of bus stop ready to direct people in their way to venues miles away, and by the friendly attitude of the Londoners, who cheerfully welcomed and tolerated hordes of strangers invading their city.

          The only snafu that was widely noted was the failure by sponsors to fill in plenty of seats given to them at the Opening. The uproar resulted in a daily raffle at 6 pm of all sponsor unused tickets (a lot) for the following day. Which I found an elegant solution.

          (*) I’m talking about the actual games, not whatever happened during the years of ….preparation? (**)

          Masterfully memorialized by Hugh Bonneville in BBC’s gem Twenty Twelve https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twenty_Twelve (***)

          (***) which you all must see if you haven’t. Title notwithstanding, it’s timeless. It could have been called “Minus Three Hundred Eighty Five”, be set in Olympia, and carry the same punch.Report

          • Avatar Michael Cain says:

            The only thing I watch in the Summer Games are some of the fencing events. London’s streaming coverage was magnificent: every minute of every bout, streams never broke down, easy to navigate site, easy to find out who was fencing when. They were streaming the common feed that went to all countries, with no announcers or color commentators. Each point was shown from behind the referee, then shown again in close up slow motion from one of two angles. Whoever was choosing which angle to use for the slow motion shot did a terrific job of getting the one that showed the touch.

            Serious about the “every minute” part. The Korean woman who lost her chance to fence for gold due to the referee’s errors was shown for the entire hour she sat on the edge of the strip waiting for the FIE to go through the motions of an appeal. (The FIE wasted everyone’s time; everyone who knew the rules knew that it was not an appealable decision.)

            In 2016, the organizers broke pretty much everything that was good about the 2012 streaming coverage.Report

    • Avatar Kolohe says:

      385 Olympia.Report

    • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

      I was leaning toward SLC, but Vancouver and London weren’t bad, all things considered (Vancouver had an athlete killed in a training event, so that stuck out for me).

      now Sochi…Report

      • Avatar Maribou says:

        @oscar-gordon @michael-cain @j_a

        I had no concerns over how the London games were presented, but more with all the drama before them. Given that “concerns and controversies” for that games have their own, quite lengthy wikipedia page…. I’m not buying it as a non-shitshow.

        Sure was pretty on TV though.

        (My concerns almost all fell under the first section of that page, stuff that happened before the Games even started, as well as some other fairly local concerns. I had a very good friend living there at the time, which probably inflected my view.)Report

  4. Avatar Kolohe says:

    Yeah, so it seems Russia is competing inside a loophole you can drive a truck (with a dashcam) through.

    Worse, they are able to compete as coherent teams (like the skate yesterday), instead of in a group with all the stateless athletes.Report

  5. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Oh Jeez. It’s the Olympics.

    I’m not ready.

    I just wanted to watch some curling.Report

  6. Avatar Jaybird says:

    I know I should have seen the favorable North Korean coverage coming.

    But I didn’t.Report

    • Avatar pillsy says:

      At least some of the problem was people assuming that an anodyne Tweet would necessarily mean that the underlying article would leave out key context like that North Korea is a Stalinist hellhole run by a deranged personality cult.

      Whether the problem is people jumping to that conclusion, or editorial decisions about how to write headlines, or terrible management of MSM orgs’ social media accounts, is another question, one which I have no answer for.Report

    • Avatar Kolohe says:

      I wasn’t sure if here was mindless diversions no politics rules, but since it doesn’t seem to be –

      What ever happened to “no-platforming”?

      (for that matter, whatever happened to sucker punching people in the face?)Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        Because it’s the Olympics and whatnot, I suppose I can understand the deliberate editorial choice to not focus on North Korea’s human rights abuses.

        But the whole “Look at the North Korean cheerleaders! Aren’t they just adorable?!?” thing is… well. It’s obtuse.Report

      • Avatar Maribou says:

        @kolohe (It’s totally not, btw. One figures no-politics Olympics can go on Sunday thread, if there’s folks looking for that?)Report

    • Avatar Stillwater says:

      I know I should have seen the favorable North Korean coverage coming.

      Here’s a better question: did you foresee rightwingers almost univocally condemning the media for *not* univocally condemning NK? I’ve read many hot-takes from pretty bog-standard conservatives equating praise for KJUs sister as an endorsement of gulags. Yikes! Really???

      Of course, I get that it’s a chicken cart/egg horse situation, but conceptually, not causally. Pick your conceptual scheme and the devastating criticisms flow without having to put in any thought whatsoever.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        Tell me more about this egg horse… may be onto something there…Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        did you foresee rightwingers almost univocally condemning the media for *not* univocally condemning NK?

        In not gaming out the North Korean coverage, I failed to game out responses to it.

        That said, for any sentence that involves whether it’s a safe bet whether it’ll be the case that “rightwingers almost univocally condemning the media for X” (or “not X”, I suppose), the assumption should usually be “yeah, they’re probably going to do that”.

        And it’s a lot nicer when the rightwingers sound like crackpots.Report

    • Avatar pillsy says:

      I’ve come around to wondering why the tone of North Korea coverage is important.

      This isn’t an ironic question: I jumped in on the assumption that it was really important.

      But then I started wondering what was at stake. And now I don’t have a clear answer.Report

      • Avatar greginak says:

        It’s not. It’s a sporting event and being reported as that. They are avoiding the controversies as much as they can which is to be expected from a televised sports event. If it was important i’d care a heckva lot more about the South Korean’s reactions. I’ve seen a little about that.Report

      • Avatar Maribou says:

        @pillsy To me, on the one hand it’s not that important, but on the other hand it’s … vaguely morally obscene (cognitive dissonance between “vague” and “obscene” very deliberate) to coo over how charming and adorable a bunch of people are, how great it is that they’re getting along with the South Koreans, etc etc etc, when you *know* they’re probably only here because the alternative is starving to death. Or similar.

        I mean.

        It’s not *important* but it’s distracting as all hell…Report

        • Avatar Kazzy says:

          Yea, it strikes me as specifics really mattering.

          There are surely athletes from problematic countries whose presence at the Games is likely little different than most other athletes.
          And there are athletes from problematic countries whose presence at the Games is VERY different from most other athletes.
          And there may even be athletes from non-problematic countries whose presence at the Games is more like that second group than the first group but we might not even know.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        What’s at stake? For me, part of the stakes are knowing that I’ll be reading news stories edited by the same people who wrote these headlines.

        Without a word, only flashing smiles, Kim Jong-un's sister outflanked Vice President Mike Pence in diplomacy https://t.co/c2gTuSTF9e— The New York Times (@nytimes) February 11, 2018

        It’s pretty tawdry.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird says:

          In a vaguely analogous vein, here’s this story that made it to the front page of Reddit:

          NBC fires Olympic analyst after comments infuriate South Korea

          What comments could he possibly have said?, I hear you ask.

          “Every Korean will tell you that Japan is a cultural, technological and economic example that has been so important to their own transformation,” said Ramo, who sits on the board of Starbucks SBUX, +1.51% and FedEx FDX, -1.65% while working as co-CEO of former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger’s consulting firm.

          The Korea Times reported Sunday that the network had planned to use Ramo for other Olympics events — but then had no choice but to eighty-six him.

          “It was possible for him to do more with us here; now it is no longer possible,” an NBC official told Korea Times.

          Ramo made the thoughtless comment after noting that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was in attendance.

          Wait, what?, I hear you ask.

          Well, I sort of skipped over the very first paragraph in the story. It sets up the context:

          NBC was forced to fire one of its Olympic analysts after he inexplicably said Koreans are grateful for Japan’s role in their economic development — while ignoring the one-time imperial power’s brutalization of the peninsula.


          • Avatar greginak says:

            I was wondering who that guy was during the opening ceremony. I’m not sure why they needed a generic rich nitwit for political commentary, i mean, don’t they have tom friedman’s number. That is his bailiwick.Report

          • Avatar Maribou says:

            @jaybird I had no wait what. I had an “OH NO, I can’t believe he said that.”

            Without the hint paragraph.

            The bad blood there lies deep, and for understandable reasons. It also goes back a lot further than just the last century.

            It’s not *not* analogous to saying the same thing about Britain if you were in County Cork.Report

        • Avatar pillsy says:

          That’s a strong point. @trumwill found a good thread on teh Twitters that is in a similar vein.Report

  7. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    I still think that the Summer Olympics should be permanently based in Athens and the Winter Olympics in some cold mountainous country. Switzerland, Japan, or Korea would do.Report

  8. Avatar Maribou says:

    Back in the day, it used to be easy to feel sorry for the Russian athletes and hope for them to successfully defect.

    I’m not sure whether I feel that way about the North Koreans, or whether I am more worried about what a rash of successful defections might incur. (I suspect SK isn’t going to let them do that, so it’s kind of moot.)Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq says:

      Thats an interesting observation. Eastern Bloc defections tended to be in small numbers because as bad as the Eastern Bloc countries where, they tended to be livable. Major incidents weren’t going to break out over a couple of defections. North Korea is not a livable place and its not going to look good when nearly the entire North Korea Olympic delegation decides to defect. The Kim Dynasty is also one of the ideologically nuttier ones and isn’t going to take mass defections well.Report

    • Avatar Kolohe says:

      My understanding is compared to USSR, Warsaw pact or Cuban defectors, the consequences for the defector’s family remaining behind is a lot more severe.

      Also apparently, ROK government doesn’t want to deal with the fallout from defections during the next couple of weeks.Report

      • Avatar Maribou says:

        @kolohe Yeah, that’s my understanding as well. It just puts me in a weird position as a spectator (something I realize is utterly trivial compared to their and their families’ potential suffering).

        Hard not to be aware that on some level what I’m watching isn’t that different from the Hunger Games…Report

    • Avatar Kazzy says:

      I’m curious about how defections play out.

      Imagine someone wants to defect. How, exactly, does their home country stop them that doesn’t risk violating a law of some kind? If I’m a North Korean athlete and I say, “I’m not getting on that plane,” and two burly North Korean guys pick me up and try to carry me onto the plane… isn’t that kidnapping? Or would NK enlist whatever local folks to actually carry me onto the plane?Report

      • Avatar Maribou says:

        @kazzy I’m not totally sure either, it’s been so long since the ones I remember best.

        I did find this article just now: https://www.cnn.com/2018/02/09/asia/north-korea-olympic-defection-fears-intl/index.html – I haven’t read it but planning to do so later.Report

        • Avatar Kazzy says:

          Thanks, @maribou . That was actually the article that got me thinking about it. It focuses on three things: who is chosen to go in the first place, “surveillance” and “scrutiny back home”. What it seems to be dancing around or simply not discussing is how anything is actually enforced. It mentions never being left alone, even being supervised in the bathroom. But what happens if you try to go out the window? Are there three burly folks out there with their arms folded blocking your way but not actually touching you? Are they whispering, “How’s mom? Maybe we should pay her a visit?” Or is someone inside grabbing you by the ankles, ignoring and/or immune from the sorts of laws that would usually land you in jail for such actions?

          This also stood out:
          “The athletes have made their presence known by hanging from a window a massive North Korean flag that covers all three floors. Such a move that could land you in jail on a normal day, but these Olympic Games are not normal and the flag is allowed by the International Olympic Committee.”
          I’m assuming that they are referring to a “normal day” in South Korea (I can imagine reasons why hanging even the NK flag in NK would be illegal as the government may want to control ALL displays of EVERYTHING… but that doesn’t fit with the way the passage is written)… which A) paints an interesting picture of SK, outlawing the (public?) hanging of the NK flag and B) shows that some laws change during the Olympics. How exactly that is gone about is unexplained.

          Which sort of goes to @jaybird ‘s original point… they’re talking about how a brutal regime prevents defection and make it sound more like a school field trip than what I’d imagine a brutal regime preventing defection would sound like.Report