Olympics use sports to bring world together

The Winter Olympics start on Feb. 9 in Pyeongchang. The Observer sports reporters gathered to discuss their expectations for the quadrennial event.  

Eddie Kerekes, Director of Web & Multimedia: The Winter Olympics begin in one week, and I have a lot of questions. Are you planning on watching? Which events do you watch? What do you think about North Korea sending athletes and combining with South Korea for women’s hockey? How about the NHL not allowing its players to participate? What could happen that would surprise you?

Jacob Rayyan, Staff Reporter: I am pretty excited to see the Koreas joining teams. Despite my reservations and feelings towards the government, I believe that sports are powerful enough to create change and transcend political squabbles. I will try and watch as much as I can and, of course, will be an avid supporter of all things Team USA.

Andrew Ford, Staff Reporter: I personally am very excited for the Olympics. Obviously the Winter Games aren’t as popular as the Summer Olympics, but I think they are both entertaining. I do think the NHL preventing players from competing is a huge storyline and, frankly, a disappointing one. The Olympics should be for the best athletes in the world, but that won’t be the case in hockey this year. I understand why they did it, considering it would splinter their season, but it’s still unfortunate. However, it will give lesser known players a chance to compete and could create a new “star” for one of the countries—hopefully the United States.

David Chang, Staff Reporter: A story I relate to is the story of Chloe Kim: a seventeen-year-old Korean-American and four-time X Games champion representing the United States. In a New York Times article, Kim said that she feels a disconnect to her native Korean heritage whenever she visits Korea, but she still gets the ignorant “where are you really from” questions in the States. Although she identifies as American, the Olympics have brought together athletes of different backgrounds. For example, the Nigerian bobsled team has three Americans, and 16 foreign athletes will represent South Korea. It’s cool that people from multiple cultures are recognized through sports.

Kerekes: To go off of David’s point, a lot of the focus during the Olympics is on the individual athletes. You hear quite a bit about their backstories, how they got to the Olympics and about any adversity they faced. For some, this may be their only chance to shine on the world stage. These human interest stories are what I am looking forward to the most.

Sanjay Annigeri, Staff Reporter: To add to Eddie’s point, there has also been some historic performances leading up to the Olympics. There was Shaun White, who scored a perfect 100 on the halfpipe to qualify for the Olympics. There is also Erin Jackson, who took up ice skating only four months ago and was able to be one of two African-American women in history to qualify for the speed skating events in the Olympics.

Ford: Perhaps another thing to ponder is the effect the Olympics will have on world politics. Sports have a unique way of uniting different people, and the Olympics are a great example of that. Hopefully they can serve that purpose this year, especially in a domestic political climate that is sharply divided and in a world that can sometimes seem on the brink of conflict.