Why I don’t like the Olympics, especially in Korea

The Olympic Games.

It’s an irony that while the first Olympic Games held in Ancient Greece provided an unprecedented occasion for conflicts and wars to be postponed at least during the duration of the games, constituting a symbol of peace and unity, what the Olympic Games have become is quite the opposite.

Instead of calming down conflicts and presenting an arena where differences were overlooked and amateurs could leisurely compete, the Olympic Games are now providing every bit of excuse for people to light up feuds that had been absent before. The pride of each country is at stake, countries have their own ways of ranking so that they can find an easier way to come at the top, and worse, the amenities of technology and modernity are being used as major tools to exacerbate the competition, which left the ‘friendly area’ a long time ago.

Especially in Korea, the 30 days of what should be a pleasant and exciting experience for viewers and perhaps a less than pleasant and quite stressful ordeal for the athletes, become a ground for lashing out all the negative aspects of nationalism in full motion.

The winners are lauded as ‘national heroes’, with their names making the covers of every newspaper front page and internet page, with adjectives and descriptions that often make me wonder if we sent these athletes to fight a war. Those who haven’t made it to the podium to be awarded the precious medal and given the opportunity to place their hands on their hearts are encouraged and acclaimed to have ‘well fought‘.

Moreover, this is a great excuse to find every bit of so-called proof and evidence of a ‘global conspiracy theory’ against Korea. True, there have been incidents where what should have been a sound and fair judgment from the umpires have been questioned for Korean athletes, during these Olympics more than anywhere else. My sympathy goes to the athletes who waited four years to be on this stage and enjoy the immense happiness and sense of achievement they could have had. I’m not even saying that the referees were fair, my obvious lack of knowledge in anything related to sport forbids me from making such a judgement. However, is it fair, I ask in return, for the large majority of a population to bombard those involved in the process with insults and defamation? Is it fair to expect that the athlete who has been given the joy to be awarded a medal should relinquish his or her rights to it because he or she may also think the referee was unfair? Most of all, is it fair, or even reasonable, to even fathom the idea that this is all a big conspiracy theory against Korea, a nation oh-so-great that people actually care?

Get off your high horses, and also, get a life, people. Being the main responsible ones to shut down someone’s Twitter or Facebook account is NOT something you should be proud of, or something you should be doing in the first place. It feels like shit to think you’ve been cheated, but you’re not the only country to have experienced a controversy in these games (if you don’t believe me, check out the Wiki page for ‘Olympic Game Controversies’). Also, well, shit happens in life.

The incessant and frankly, overwhelming, attention given to the games and athletes does not end once the Games end, unfortunately. Even now, while the Games are still in full motion (although I think that the heat will somehow be assuaged now, now that Korea has won its medals in the few categories they had the most chance to), the female athletes are described as ‘hidden beauties’, ‘pearls’, ‘pretty faces’, and so on. None of these adjectives are used for the male athletes, and I do wonder, why is it that although these female athletes have done everything to prove their abilities, the only image people still want to remember by is their physical trait? And, no offense, with all due respect and admiration, I, honestly wouldn’t describe some of them as ‘objectively pretty’. True, beauty is skin deep and these are all ‘beautiful’ women because they have shown their full potential, but we all know that the media does not mean ‘beautiful’ in that sense.

Once our proud athletes hit the Korean soil from their plane, they will be the target of every photo shoot, interviews and TV shows. They will -especially the women- pampered with the latest trendy make-up and dresses for photo shoots, they will be interviewed to recount every detail of their precious moment, and the ordeal they had to go through during their years of practice under less than recommendable conditions. Their families will be interviewed, their friends, their teachers, their classmates from pre-school, and basically anyone who ever came across them in their long lifetime. They will be invited as special guests to TV shows where the MCs will prod on sensible questions so that they can show their tears of frustration and joy and hence make all the other guests and thousands of viewers cry. Their performances will be shown over and over on TV, on an array of channels. (The 2002 World Cup games are STILL shown on TV).

And then, God forbid, should they make the slightest behavior or make the tiniest comment that the great populace of Korea considers a ‘mistake’, they will never be allowed to show their faces in public.

Thank God I don’t have a TV at home anymore.

My respect goes to the creators of the Olympic Games and those that believed in its spirit, whatever they may have turned to now, as well as to all the athletes to whom each second of these Games matters. The Olympic Games can still be enjoyed and be considered as ‘Games’. But unfortunately, Korea is making this whole experience unbearable for me.


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