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최종편집 : 2019.10.10 목 18:58
NewsSocial & Political Desk
Olympic Boycott, Can It Be a Solution?
Sim Seong-a  |  tlatjddk2019@cau.ac.kr
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승인 2019.10.04  15:24:50
트위터 페이스북 미투데이 요즘 네이버 구글 msn

As relations between Korea and Japan have deteriorated rapidly due to Japan's recent export restrictions, the Korean government is working on countermeasures to deal with the situation. In addition, the Japanese government announced that it would use food ingredients from Fukushima where nuclear power plant accidents occurred in 2011for the upcoming 2020 Tokyo Olympic Athletes' Village diet for the purpose of ‘reconstruction and revival’. After that announcement public opinion is being raised in Korea to worry about the health of Olympic athletes. Accordingly, there are calls within Korean society for a boycott of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. However, there are also voices of opposition that the act of boycotting the Olympics itself has an adverse effect on Korea's international status and is practically impossible. In particular, the KOC (Korean Olympic Committee)and other sports figures in Korea are expressing strong opposition to the Olympic boycott, saying they are not even considering an absence at all. Let's now look at the various opinions surrounding the Olympic boycott and find out how Korea can respond.

Korea's Olympic Boycott History
 
            Korea's first Olympic boycott came during the 1980 Moscow Olympics. It was led by the U.S. administration, which took issue with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and pro-Soviet coup support. Sixty-five countries, including South Korea, joined this boycott. For this reason, a small number of boycotts by the Soviet Union and other communist countries took place later in the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul. Some seven countries, including North Korea, Vietnam and Cuba, announced their absence of the Olympics. No collective Olympic boycott cases occurred as the Cold War ended after the 88 Olympics. However, public opinion in South Korea has recently shown strong support for boycotting the Tokyo Olympics to be held next year, citing Japan's political and environmental problems.
 
   
▲ https://bit.ly/2lKpfe4
 
The Background of the Olympic Boycott Claim
 
 Deteriorating Korea-Japan Conflict
 
              According to a survey of 8,000 adults conducted by Realmeter, the polling agency which conducted the August 5th poll, 68.9 percent said they approved of a boycott of the Tokyo Olympics. On the other hand, only 21.6 percent said the boycott was an excessive response. Korea-Japan relations, which have deteriorated, are known to be the fundamental cause of such a boycott of the Tokyo Olympics. On July 1st, the Japanese government imposed restrictions on exports of some of its key semiconductor materials on the pretext of security, without providing clear grounds for South Korea. As a result, anti-Japanese sentiment is spreading in Korea as the semiconductor industry, the center of the Korean economy, is facing a major crisis. Therefore, Koreans voluntarily began boycotting Japan, and japan products, judging that the Japanese move contained the meaning of political retaliation by the Korean Supreme Court's ruling on forced labor.
 
Environmental Issues Surrounding the Tokyo Olympics
 
              Ahead of the hosting of the Tokyo Olympics, Koreans are re-examining the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident. This is because the organizing committee of the Tokyo Olympics said it plans to supply Fukushima-based agricultural and fisheries products to the athletes' village as food ingredients. Tokyo's Olympic Minister Toshiaki Endo officially acknowledged plans to supply Fukushima food materials to the athletes' village of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in a press conference on July 24, 2015. However, according to Choi Kyung-sook, an activist at the Center for Civil Radiation Monitoring, the safety of Fukushima-produced agricultural and fisheries products has yet to be proven internationally, with only Japan's internal inspections as evidence. According to a survey by the Center for Civil Radiation Monitoring, the type of radiation detection machines used in the data released by the Japanese government agency, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, are not the same every time, so the investigation method itself is problematic. There are also limitations to the fact that precision radioactive materials would not have been detected due to the low sensitivity of the machine used for this inspection. This is because most of inspections were conducted with machines with low sensitivity that could not detect below 25Bq/kg (per Becquerel/kg). The sloppy inspection has made the public more concerned about the safety of Japanese food ingredients that national team players would be consuming.
 
            Odaiba Beach Park in Japan, where the swimming Olympic Games are scheduled to take place, is also a big issue in the legitimacy of hosting the event due to environmental concerns. According to a water quality test conducted by the Tokyo Olympic Opening Organizing Committee in 2017, E. coli was detected at Odaiba Beach Park, 21 times the international standard. Due to such low water quality, the Paralympics triathlon swimming event scheduled for August 17th was canceled. On August 11th, the athletes who participated in the open water swimming event here also joined hands to point out the seriousness of the problem of stench in the stadium. One player even claimed on Japan's NHK network that the water was so murky that he couldn't even see his hand in the water.
 
   
 
 
The Stance of KOC
 
            The Korean Olympic Committee, which has the authority to decide whether to boycott the Tokyo Olympics, made the following statement. First of all, the decision to boycott the Olympics is a harsh act that only sacrifices South Korean national players, they said. They also claim it is impossible to force national athletes, who have been training for their whole lives, to skip the Olympics on the basis of political issues. This is a crucial issue that requires athletes to give up pensions and rewards that they can receive if they win medals at the Olympics. Skipping an Olympics is a particularly fatal decision for male athletes, as male athletes winning a gold medal earn exemption to their military service. Therefore, the KOC explained that it is against the efforts of the Korean national team players if they decide Korea's boycott of the Olympics and to force it on individual players.
 
              Second, if they decide not to attend the Olympics, it risks denying the existence of the KOC itself. Currently, the Korean Olympic Committee is the only organization in South Korea that can decide whether to boycott the Olympics. But granting a boycott is tantamount to denying the authority of the organization, as the purpose of the Korean Olympic Committee itself is to make the Olympics happen in addition to participating in the Olympics. Also, according to the policy of IOC (International Olympic Committee), political intervention during the Olympics is never allowed. Therefore, the Korean sports community believes that if an Olympic boycott occurs due to political reasons between Korea and Japan, it goes against the principles of the KOC.
 
   
▲ https://bit.ly/2k9g3zN
 
What Effect Will the Boycott Have?
 
              At present, Korea is the only country that is debating a boycott of the Tokyo Olympics. Therefore, even if the boycott actually takes place, there is no possibility of any major disruption in the proceedings of the Tokyo Olympics itself. To deal a real blow, sports powers such as the United States, Germany and China must simultaneously join the boycott, which is also practically impossible. On the other hand, some predict that Japanese athletes, who have been consistently competing with Korean players in sports like judo and soccer, will have an advantage in winning medals. In a similar case from the past, North Korea and Cuba did not attend the 1988 Seoul Olympics for political reasons, which has no effect on the success of the Games, but only on their individul athletes. Some suggest changing the venue to South Korea and other neighboring countries, but experts say that it is too much to do so with only one year left before the opening of the Olympics.
 
               Seoul and Pyongyang officially declared their bid for the 2032 Summer Olympics. According to an official at the KOC, if a nation wanting to host the Olympic Games, a world peace festival, decides not to participate in the Olympics in other countries, it could serve as a huge weakness in future Olympic bids. Even if the 2032 Seoul-Pyongyang Games’ bid is successful, the reason to criticize them is also expected to disappear if some other countries express their intention to boycott the games. 
 
Possible Countermeasures
 
             So, what direction should South Korea take in place of the Olympic boycott? To begin with, boycotting the Tokyo Olympics as a political counter-offensive against export regulations could cause more damage to Korean society than good. The international community is also expected to take a dim view of Korea because this is a violation of the International Olympic Committee's charter of "separation of sports and politics." However, it is possible to make a formal complaint to the Japanese government regarding radioactive food and water pollution. The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism also expressed their stance that they will continue to raise issues regarding athletes' health while protesting Japan's plan to supply Fukushima-based agricultural products to the athletes' village. In Korea, there have been a flurry of calls to provide a diet using local ingredients to protect the health of Korean athletes. However, there is the KOC's argument that it is practically impossible to provide meals in Korea for all athletes in the athletes' village to eat during the Olympics. Therefore, the government needs to prepare an environment where it can provide as many safe meals as possible by providing full financial support.
 
At a time when the 2020 Tokyo Olympics are drawing near, Korean citizens are becoming increasingly concerned. Public opinion is growing that the Korean national squad should boycott the Olympics because of the worsening relations between Korea and Japan, as well as environmental problems in Japanese sports facilities. Though, simply exposing political issues between the two countries through the boycott of the Olympics risks being criticized by the international community. There is also a possibility that it could adversely affect the future bid of Seoul-Pyongyang Olympics. However, on environmental issues such as radioactive food materials and water pollution, it should actively protest, and demand improvements from the Japanese government. Since it is directly related to the athletes' health problems, there is a need to weigh the legitimacy of hosting the Tokyo Olympics with national attention and support.
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