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Generating Olympic excitement

Nov 02,2017
The Olympic flame for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Games arrived in South Korea as the theme song “Let Everyone Shine” played. As the Olympic torch relay begins its journey here after it was ignited by the flame from Olympia, Greece, citizens cheered and applauded it along the way. The flame will be used to light the Olympic cauldron during the opening ceremony of the Olympics in Pyeongchang, Gangwon, on Feb. 9 next year after a total of 7,500 torchbearers — a 10,000th of the entire Korean population — have crisscrossed the country over a distance of 2,018 kilometers (1,254 miles). The Olympic Flame last landed in South Korea for the 1988 Seoul Summer Olympics.

South Koreans have demonstrated an outstanding ability to pave the way for economic development through their successful staging of the games. But this Winter Games didn’t attract much attention from the public due to other urgent problems grabbing their attention. These included the ouster of President Park Geun-hye after an unprecedented abuse of power scandal, North Korea’s nuclear provocations and the diplomatic conflict between Seoul and Beijing over the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (Thaad) missile shield. As a result, only 30 percent of Olympic tickets have been sold and less than 30 percent of hotel rooms and other accommodations have been reserved so far. A number of South Koreans are totally unaware of the fact that some of the Winter Games are being held in Gangneung, Gangwon.

We hope that the Olympic torch relay helps reignite public interest in the Games. To rekindle it, the Moon Jae-in administration and the PyeongChang Organizing Committee for the 2018 Olympic & Paralympic Winter Games must do their best to create an Olympic boom. Given the international community’s concerns about security issues on the Korean Peninsula, the government could consider the idea of allowing North Korea to participate in the games.

At the same time, the organizing committee must thoroughly check the transportation situation, venues, tourism and lodging conditions. We propose the government explain the status of its preparation to the public next month.

It is time to focus on the Olympics. Union members of major broadcasting companies like KBS and MBC must end their months-long strikes and promote the games. While the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics is generating interest 1,000 days before its opening, the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics is provoking yawns with less than 100 days to go. Our government must create an Olympic boom now.

JoongAng Ilbo, Nov. 2, Page 34