The Winds Of Change Are Blowing at Olympics
If anyone, or any one thing, is stealing the show at this year’s Winter Olympics, currently underway in PyeongChang, South Korea, then it’s the wind. Yes, the wind. As skiers plummet down dizzying heights, having to performing mid-air voodoo not to be air-lifted into another dimension, the topic on every commentator and spectator’s lips is this: the wind. The wind was so violent, in fact, that during the opening sessions, the cross-country ski course had to be shortened due to the wind and safety concerns.
Windy conditions have been so treacherous that almost every conversation worth repeating has been about the potential danger to athletes and how PyeongChang was perhaps not the most suitable venue for already potentially life-threatening competitions.
This year is the first time in the history of the Winter Games that its being held in South Korea, and by the sound of it, most probably the last. Ironically, the wind, and not volatile political unrest or the competitive events and athletes’ performance, seems to be stealing the show this year.
Finding Common Ground In A Common Language
If the wind is making headlines, then the language-debate is breaking the news pages. Consider mixed doubles curling, the newest event have been added to the games this year. The most noteworthy thing to be said for mixed doubles curling, is that the athletes wear microphones. As a result, viewers of the event can hear strategies and game-plans being discussed in general conversation.
The really interesting bit is that there are no referees involved in mixed doubles curling. Instead, players are expected to settle any disputes among themselves, often in a cross-team dynamic. In a recent match between China and Norway, no translators were needed because the teams were able to communicate on common language ground: in English.
North Koreans’ English is so bad, that they have been struggling to communicate with athletes from South Korea. War and military antics aside, it’s important to note that this is a single country separated only by the borders of conflict. At this year’s Winter Games, the two Korean poles made a bit of progress on the peace front by agreeing to a joint women’s hockey team. Again, the most noteworthy part of the game wasn’t the surprising coming together of two sides who are actually at war, but the language struggle.
South Korean players are familiar with many English Hockey terms, North Korean players are not. As a result, the Northern powers that be have taken to translating many of the terms back to Korean, which by the looks of it, made it even more difficult for the South to understand.
One thing is for sure, athletes not fully converse in English are having a hard time at this year’s Winter Olympics. Things like Hollywood and Facebook aside, the South would do well to adopt a more lenient approach to language, in their quest for self-reliance.
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