four weeks of the winter olympics of Pyeongchang, everything becomes clear: the organisers will discuss in confidence the last stretch of their preparations with the confirmation of the presence of North Korea, which raises concerns over security and ticket sales.
These Games could therefore well be those “peace”, as the exhibit organizers, long sealed by the suspension of Russia and the latent fear of nuclear war.
North Korea, which had boycotted the Games in Seoul in 1988, was accepted this week for the first time to participate in an olympic competition to the South on the occasion of a face-to-face social tensions caused by its nuclear and missile programs.
While the situation on the peninsula was considerably degraded in the last two years, France, Germany and Austria had expressed their fears for the safety of their delegation in Pyeongchang.
The main sites of the games are just 80 kilometers of the demilitarized Zone (DMZ), the border strip bristling with watchtowers and littered with minefields that separates the two Koreas.
“Of a sudden, the concern for the safety supplied by nuclear threats from north Korean during the olympic games in Pyeongchang have evaporated,” said Park Sung-Bae, a specialist in the sports industry at the Hanyang University of South Korea.
“Nobody will think that the North will throw bombs on the heads of its own athletes,” he told AFP.
The north Korean delegation is expected to be strong with hundreds of members, even if, for now, only two athletes are qualified, figure skaters Ryom Tae-Ok and Kim Ju-Sik.
But the leaders of olympism have made it known that they planned to deliver special invitations to sports in north korea. Cross-country skiers, speed skaters and women could benefit.
– ‘adequate Preparations’ –
according To the south Korean media, North Koreans, including their squad of “beauty queens” are called to encourage their athletes, could be housed on a ship anchored off the coastal town of Sokcho.
“there has been plenty of speculation about the participation or non-participation of North Korea, but now that it is confirmed, we must prepare ourselves even more,” explains Lee Hee-Beom, the chairman of the organizing Committee (Pocog), cited by the agency Yonhap.
“The accommodation for athletes and officials is ready. But since we had a squadron of cheerleaders, and artists, we have to carry out the adequate preparations”.
The precise terms of the presence of north-Korean will be discussed on 20 January in Lausanne at a meeting of the two Koreas, the international olympic Committee (IOC) and the organisers.
the arrival of The North Koreans is a new welcome for the organizers in Russia, power of olympism winter, has been banned because of doping institutionalized.
Will also be absent, the stars of ice hockey, the League of north american (NHL) snobant the event because of the refusal of the IOC to fund expenses such as travel or insurance.
According to the organizers, about 703.000 tickets had been sold as at 9 January, nearly 60 per cent of the 1.18 million of sesame available. Generally, half of the tickets are sold during the two months leading up to the olympics and the competition itself.
it stands in a remote corner, and until then unknown in South Korea, far from the traditional markets of winter sports that are Europe and North America.
But in the eyes of Scott Snyder, Council on foreign relations, a firm of american engineering, the presence of north korea will be “a sign very reassuring for the athletes, officials, and spectators who might have been reluctant otherwise to go to South Korea because of the escalation of tension intercoréennes”.
As for the athletes the russians, who are considered as “clean” will compete under the banner of neutral, which could be 200 athletes, according to the president of the Russian olympic committee Alexander Zhukov… himself suspended by the IOC.