Greece. 776 BCE. First Olympic games. It became a time for athletes and their supporters to come together in the pursuit of excellence in sport. Conflicts between city states were suspended during this quadrennial event.
Flash forward 2,800 years to the Pyeongchang Olympics. Perhaps I missed it, but I did not witness a gesture of good will being proffered to the sister of the North Korean dictator seated immediately behind Vice-President Pence. a kind act of acknowledgement might have led her to remark to her brother that perhaps the Americans were human after all. Sports can have far-reaching consequences; Witness “ping-pong diplomacy” in 1972 between China and the Nixon Administration.
During the parade of nations, Pence chose to remain seated, sitting on his hands during the “United” Korea entrance, while “Sister Kim,” as well as the South Korean president, were standing; enthusiastically applauding the athletes. It is a time to celebrate the athletes and their years of preparation, not a time to reinforce hostility. The vice-president’s actions make our country look “small” in the eyes of the world. To use his boss’ recent words, perhaps other countries had their feelings reinforced that we are the “a----” of the world. we’re not, but, in a small way, we looked the part.