The 2018 Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang, South Korea, have brought the world together in athletic competition once again. With Harding students representing 55 nations, there are many sentiments toward the Games on campus.
Senior Yijun Zhang from China said the Winter Olympics are always a big event. However, he said they are nothing in comparison to the Summer Olympics in China.
“For us, the Summer Olympics are very competitive,” Zhang said. “The Chinese students here never talk about the Winter Olympics, but we do talk a lot about the Summer Olympics when we are in China.”
Zhang also said there is a sense of national pride that comes with the Olympics in China, similar to that of the U.S.
“It’s like they are competing not just for themselves, but also for our country,” Zhang said.
While the summer games are more popular in China, sophomore Sasha Regida said the opposite is true in her home country of Russia.
“We’re really excited and proud of each other,” Regida said. “In Russia, mostly it’s winter sports like hockey, ice skating and figure skating. We’re really strong in that. “
With athletes banned from competing under the Russian flag this year due to allegations of doping, Regida said the feeling of the Olympics is a little different, but there is no loss of national pride.
“It’s definitely sad, but it doesn’t change anything,” Regida said. “If a Russian person wins something, it doesn’t change just because we couldn’t use our flag.”
Charlie Mooney, academic principal of International Christian Schools in Pyeongtaek, South Korea, is experiencing the Games as an American expatriate living in South Korea, just 75 miles from the Olympics. Mooney said there is a distinct difference in attitudes between Americans in South Korea and the Koreans.
“The Americans are excited, the Koreans are not,” Mooney said. “There’s not really that patriotic sense of nationalism that I’m hearing from my Korean friends that I’m definitely hearing from my American friends.”
Mooney also said that the combination of the North and South Korean teams is not creating as much buzz in South Korea as people might think.
“Everything is a bigger deal to Americans than it is to Koreans,” Mooney said. “No one talks about North Korea ever, unless an American brings it up. It’s been this way for 60 years, and it’s just another day. But when the American media starts flipping out, it makes the South Koreans nervous that it’ll stir up North Korea.”
Mooney also observed the skeleton races. He said one thing that stood out to him was the atmosphere of the fans was very congenial and fun once they finally arrived.
“Everyone was rooting for their own countries and wearing their flags but it really was in good fun in a globally-minded sort of way,” Mooney said. “I was sincerely impressed by that.”
Different cultures have different attitudes toward the Olympics. With athletic records being broken and new political precedents being set, Regida said the Olympics can be very powerful.
“It unites people,” Regida said. “It doesn’t matter where you come from.”