The 2018 Winter Olympics has the potential for a lasting legacy of unprecedented achievements and athletic performances. The 23rd Winter Olympics is also the second Olympic held in South Korea, in the city of Pyeongchang. It is scheduled to last for 14 days, starting with the opening ceremony on February 9th and ending with the closing ceremony on February 25th. The Games will be held at thirteen different venues and includes seven sports; biathlon, bobsleigh, curling, ice hockey, luge, skating and skiing. There will be fifteen varied disciplines across these sports, with four new events added by the international olympic committee since the last olympic games; big air snowboarding for men and women, freestyle skiing, mass start speed skating for men and women, and mixed doubles curling. Each athlete will be competing for one of 102 medals, which feature three dimensional designs and an ornate texture.
The time difference between the US and South Korea is fourteen hours, but for the first time, the United States will have complete access to 2,400 hours of live coverage. Broadcasted on television, online, On Demand, and on the NBC app, viewers will no longer be subject to spoilers and will not be forced to watch delayed recordings. Instead, they will enjoy a more natural and collective experience. NBC has also announced plans to livestream over 50 hours of 360 degree video footage of all the events, in addition to the opening and closing ceremony throughout the United States. This advanced technology will provide Olympics fans with the ability to witness many aspects previously unavailable, and deliver a more engaging feel to those at home.
The games have also been somewhat mired in controversy. First, the committee has managed to overcome financial discrepancies such as construction delays, logistical conflicts, and a lack of support from sponsors. However, in the months leading up to the games, they have been drastically short of the $2.4 billion budget needed to operate the games and as well as the anticipated amount of tickets purchased, but the sales are expected to increase in the weeks leading up to the games. Another controversy stems from the Russian athletes who will be competing under the title, Olympic Athlete from Russia. Due to the fact that some Russian athletes used performance enhancing drugs in the 2014 Winter Olympics, individuals will be allowed to compete but will not be recognized at the 2018 Winter Games as athletes from Russia. Because Russia has won the most medals in the last winter Olympics, a large impact on the competition has been predicted. Germany is expected to benefit the most, while Korea is projected to record its best performance. Most recently, there has been unprecedented cohesion between North and South Korea, as the two opposing countries will be marching in the olympics under the same flag depicting a unified korean peninsula as well as forming a joint Olympic team. While the attempt to relieve military tensions has been recognized, concerns have been raised that this effort is just for show. Although North Korea’s motivation to participate is unclear, the unity between the countries is welcomed by the world.
Many olympic athletes are claiming they are “losing their winters” due to the inconsistent and erratic weather patterns making it difficult for them to train safely year-round. Temperatures have posed such a threat that the number of potential host destinations for future Winter Olympics has been diminishing. Pyeongchang is reportedly much drier in relation to the snowfall standard; a portion of the snow will be man-made, although this is not expected to be problematic since the low temperatures should facilitate the task of creating and maintaining the snow. In spite of that, Pyeongchang is a strategic location; its elevation makes it a popular destination for winter activities. Even more so, it is recognized as one of the coldest places on earth despite recent changes in the climate. In fact, the Pyeongchang organizers have raised concerns that it may be too cold; the predicted temperature of 6°F on the first night may discourage a large number of people from attending the opening ceremony.
As the host city of the 2018 Winter Olympics, Pyeongchang is prepared to confront any issues while showcasing their culture and society to the world. Their awareness of the challenges of hosting in the future has resulted in Pyeongchang determination to create a lasting legacy to remind all of the true essence and excitement of the Olympics while it is still possible.
Graphic: Nicole Kye