Will the 2018 Winter Olympics Be a Sh*t Show?
We are still reeling in the wake of a 175-year conviction of a former Olympic doctor for charges of sexual assault against hundreds of his female patients. And beyond this monstrous revelation, North Korea has been jockeying — and succeeding, it seems — for a position at the games. At the same time Russia, the impetus for decades of rivalry with the U.S., might be barred from attending. What a year this is going to be!
In the year following the #MeToo revolution, over 150 women have come forward with accusations against physician Larry Nassar. The former Olympic doctor, convicted initially on child pornography charges, spent seven days in the courtroom reliving his monstrous actions through the testimonies of his victims. This horrific case of medical malpractice and abuse of trust finds Nassar facing 175 years in prison.
How this will impact the integrity of the Olympics itself remains unclear. We can all hope that Nassar’s is an isolated case, but with the landslide of women breaking the silence after years of bearing sexual assault silently, it’s likely more athletes will come forward.
This is a monumental shift and one that’s long overdue as far as women’s right issues today goes. However, the Olympic committee will undoubtedly have its hands full with what to do in the aftermath, and further scandal could send shockwaves through the entire organization.
And then there’s Russia. As a New York Times headline aptly put it: “Russia is Barred from Winter Olympics. Russia Is Sending 169 Athletes to Winter Olympics.”
In other words, no one really knows what’s going on here. While the Olympic committee has banned Russia from attending the games on charges of widespread steroid abuse, the country has sent 169 “individual competitors” who are supposedly in no way associated with the Russian government, and who will compete entirely for their own validation.
The Russian flag will be absent from Pyeongchang, and all competitors — particularly those athletes from (but not for) Russia — must undergo a rigorous steroid screening. There is also the ever-looming possibility of convoluted cheating — as seen four years ago — bribery or other back-door shenanigans.
Regardless of what happens with Russia, following last year’s drug mishaps, the games will likely include increased testing and supervision of all athletes, and we can’t discount the possibility that another nation will face the same punishment as Russia, further stirring the proverbial pot.
It feels like just days ago Kim Jong Un was calling for the annihilation of the South with purifying heavenly fire or something. Now, as though by magic, the two countries marched into the stadium together, under a single flag.
This is all very nice if one forgets that the two nations are — technically — still at war with one another. The end of 2017 also marked a clear deterioration in relations between North Korea and the U.S., as well as all U.S. allies. South Korea has the misfortune of sitting simultaneously at the top of that list, and just south of, well, North Korea.
So while nobody knows why this sudden move towards reunification emerged, it certainly has us guessing. Just one more unknown for this year’s Olympics.
There’s no way to tell if all the controversy surrounding the Olympics this year will have any effect on the games. Probably not. But all the drama certainly has me curious. I’ve always been a tad superstitious, and it feels like a little too much bad juju. But who knows? Maybe the Russian/not Russian athletes will strictly adhere to the anti-doping protocol of the sport, along with all their friendly competitors. Maybe North Korea won’t do anything outrageous, and a lasting and harmonious peace will settle across the region. Then again. Maybe not.