2018 Winter Olympics preview

Oh, so many things are different for these games than any other. The last Olympics games were in the summer in Brazil, two years ago, and one of its most underrated headlines was the millions of dollars that the games were supposed to bring into the struggling economy. The opening ceremony was completely unique and the feeling was of well-natured competition.

Now in the winter, amid tightening attitudes between the U.S. and North Korea, the Olympic games are being held in South Korea; the back yard of a lot of heat. And North Korea wants a piece. To top it all off, Russia has been banned from representation at the games because of frequent athlete doping.

North Korea will send 22 athletes to compete in the games. During the agreement multiple comments were made about showing unity as a people and so North and South Korea will enter the games under one flag, the Korean unification flag, as well as join to enter a women’s ice hockey team for “Korea” represented by that flag. Some views, mostly from the United States heads of State, have argued against allowing agents from North Korea to enter South Korea.

Russia faces a much bigger problem related to the Winter Olympics. The International Olympic Committee (I.O.C.) officially stated their knowledge and punishment of a proven doping program with government backing, saying Russia will in no way be represented at the Olympics. Any Russian athletes hoping to compete at the winter games will have to do so under a neutral flag, in neutral colors and any medals won are won as to individuals.

The Committee goes so far in its ruling that Russian athletes will be referred to as Olympic Athletes or Independent Olympic Athletes throughout the games. Any honoring of Russia may come in the final hours of the closing ceremony if Committee officials feel so moved, but remains unlikely.

The United States will feature 240 competitors in the games across 15 sports, if its athletes are sent. With Russia banned because of doping the real issue is of the growing fear of a nuclear fallout between North Korea and the U.S. Particularly now that North Korea is being allowed to send athletes and President Trump remains on alert against nuclear threat, U.S. involvement in the games is a concern.

Whether or not the U.S. competes in the Olympics this go-around does nothing to change the fate of NHL superstars that have won medals time and again for their countries in the past. The NHL has ruled, and maintained throughout the season, that its players will not be allowed to compete in the games.

Part of this reasoning cites the interrupting of the NHL regular season and profits, of course. Instead, unsigned and amateur players will play for the U.S. and Canada, and many other countries will have to fill in the blanks. Coverage for the 2018 Winter Olympic Games begins on Feb. 8, but the opening ceremony is not until Feb. 9, 5 a.m. (note the time difference).