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Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump give the Winter Olympics best ever "launch"

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un has announced his support of the 2018 Winter Olympics across the border in PyeongChang. (Photo: Getty Images)
by Gianni Merlo, AIPS President, La Gazzetta dello Sport

LAUSANNE, January 9, 2018 - It is paradoxical, but Kim Jong-un, North Koreaís authoritarian leader, unwittingly launched the largest and most sophisticated promotional campaign of the Winter Olympic Games, which will begin on February 9th in PyeongChang, South Korea. That is a first in Olympic history.

A few months ago this Olympics of ice and snow left the world indifferent. Yes, even in Italy, very few remembered the eventís imminence and the name of the site, PyeongChang, certainly did not help. It even gave way to confusion, because the sound is similar to Pyongyang, the capital of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. Choi Moon-soon, the Governor of Gangwon Province, where PyeongChang is located, not far from the border with the North, highlighted this with an apt example.

In February 2014, a Kenyan journalist decided to visit the Korean Olympic facilities and called a tourist agency to organize the trip. He enjoyed a fantastic flight and when he landed he asked who could help him to plan a visit to the Olympic venues. His interlocutors squared him coldly and replied: "Dear sir, you are a journalist and we hope that you are not making fun of us, but you have landed in Pyongyang, in the wrong country ..."

Kim Jong-un, with his fireworks-missiles, put PyeongChang on the map and gave it a new image. Even Donald Trump, with his tweets, helped out. Today, everyone is talking about the meeting of the Korean delegations in Panmunjom, a village in the demilitarized zone. I have been there and it gives you shivers. Army barracks are divided by the demarcation line. You canít pass the line or risk getting shot immediately. Thatís often happened in the past. The demarcation line even splits the negotiating table in two. The environment is Kafkaesque and belongs to a surreal world, but perhaps this time Panmunjom helped to open the door to real dialogue and this thanks to sport.

The Olympic world will also benefit substantially, as these Games, which were practically ignored by that part of the world that has little to do with snow, are now on everyone's lips. NBC, which pays hundred of millions for the TV rights, can finally breathe a sigh of relief: the audiences will tune in. Figure skating will take place in the morning to allow Americans to follow it in prime time, just like the 100-meter final in Seoul in 1988, where the duel Ben Johnson-Carl Lewis aired at dinner time in New York. When Koreaís joint delegation will march under one flag at the opening ceremony of PyeongChang and the North Korean couple, Ryom Tae-ok and Kim Ju-Sik, will go out on the ice it will be a triumph for TV viewers around the world.

Courtesy: La Gazzetta dello Sport

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