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The Maastricht Diplomat

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The 2018 Winter Olympics: Shots Fired

Historically, the Olympic Games have mirrored political ambience. It is no surprise that the 2018 Winter Olympic Games have shown themselves as a channel for political voice in the international arena. One of the first political actions we saw was the approach of diplomacy through sport. During the opening ceremony, February 9, 2018, we saw the two Koreas marching side-by-side under a unified flag. This was not only a promising step for the two countries that have been separated since 1940’s, but also a proof that sports can open doors that politics cannot.

Map of North Korea locating main nuclear facilities and highlighting previous nuclear weapons tests

In a different scope, we could also see this short unification as a tactic of North Korea to show itself as a more approachable nation. This smart move could potentially improve North Korea position on the world stage. In the midst of this sportive and political arena, the United States, under president Trump’s administration, also ensure to use the 18-days event to deliver his political message.

According to the US. Intelligence, the answer is yes. The US. Intelligence stated that during the Olympics Game, Russia tried a “false-flag” cyber-attack with the aim of framing it like the attack came from North Korea. Further information about the precedence of the hacking was not confirmed. Yet, the US. Intelligence claimed that this was a retaliation against the International Olympic Committee for banning the Russian team from the Winter Games due to doping violations. They also warned that Russia could potentially use cyber-attacks to intervene in the closing ceremony of the Olympics.

Although there were no cyber-attacks during the last day of the Olympics in South Korea inevitably one could see the bafflement of the wary relationship between the two neighbours. One could see both countries walking out in separate uniforms waving different flags. Yes, sports were over, but was diplomacy over too? In the audience, one could spot Ivanka Trump, sitting in the stands close to Kim-Yong-chol, a former spymaster from North Korea. Perhaps diplomacy is not over yet. The stage moves from the sports’ rings to the international realpolitik of our everyday world.


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