Olympic Truce raises questions over US-Korean joint military exercises
The customary Olympic Truce was yesterday adopted ahead of the PyeongChang winter Olympics in February next year by the United Nations’ general assembly in New York against a background of continuing concerns over political tensions involving neighbouring North Korea.
The resolution, entitled ‘Sport for Peace and Development: Building a Peaceful and Better World through Sport and the Olympic Idea’, was formally submitted by the Republic of (South) Korea and calls for a truce during the Olympic Games “to encourage a peaceful environment and ensure safe passage, access and participation for athletes and relevant persons at the Games.”
But the truce raises a question mark over two annual joint US-South Korea military exercises, Key Resolve and Foal Eagle, which are due to begin in late February or early March and run until April.
The PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Games are scheduled for 9 to 25 February, while the Paralympics are due to take place on 8 to 18 March.
North Korea has repeatedly described the drills as a rehearsal for an invasion of its shores. Kim Hyun-wook, a professor at the Korea National Diplomatic Academy, told the Korea Times: “For Seoul and Washington, the two exercises are held regularly and viewed as internationally lawful. But Pyongyang does not see it that way and we should take such differences into account for our Olympics to succeed.”
Thomas Bach, the International Olympic Committee president, told the UN general assembly: “For the athletes that will gather in PyeongChang for the Olympic Winter Games, this resolution will carry a special significance, a deeply personal one. With the Olympic Truce resolution, the United Nation General Assembly is creating the conditions for all athletes to compete in peace. Only the UN Member States can guarantee the athletes a safe passage to the Olympic Games. They make it possible for all the Olympic athletes to realise their dream of a lifetime.
“The Olympic athletes show the whole world that it is possible to compete with each other while living peacefully together under one roof at the same time.”
Meanwhile, NBC, the US Olympic broadcaster, is to use the Olympic Channel to screen highlights, news and features from PyeongChang, in addition to its planned cable coverage of events such as bobsleigh, curling, ice hockey, luge and snowboarding on CNBC, MSNBC and USA Network.
In June, the Olympic Channel launched in USA in a tripartite agreement involving the IOC, NBC and the US Olympic Committee.
The launch of the dedicated channel, titled ‘Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA’, marked the venture’s first move onto traditional linear television, with the global version having launched as a digital product after last summer’s 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
NBC, the USOC and the IOC are all thought to have an equity stake in the venture that showcases coverage of Olympic sports between the games and also places an emphasis on US athletes and teams.
NBC is a long-standing Olympics rights-holder, having signed a $7.65-billion renewal in 2014 that covered the games from 2022 to 2032.