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Pyeongchang on a roller-coaster with Haley

Posted December. 12, 2017 08:19,   

Updated December. 12, 2017 08:56


One cannot expect nuanced diplomatic rhetoric from U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, dubbed “Dragon Slayer” for her toughness and direct way of speaking. She has warned that North Korea will be “utterly destroyed” if a war breaks out, and defended President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital by saying that he had the courage to “listen to the will of the American people.” The Washington Post assumed that her tough-talking on issues may be because she has no prior experience in foreign policy (as the former South Carolina governor).

Yet, Haley unusually made herself unclear on an issue which she had to be rather clear about. On last Wednesday (local time), she said that it is an “open question” if U.S. athletes will compete in the upcoming PyeongChang Winter Olympics, causing huge confusion especially for the host country South Korea, which had already bothered its head about the International Olympic Committee’s earlier decision to ban Russia mired in a doping scandal from the upcoming games but to allow individuals to compete as neutral athletes. Ambassador Haley must have intended to raise the safety issue of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics to pressure Pyongyang.

Still, her attempt has ended in a failure. This is because she failed to understand the essence of the Olympics, which is not just a simple sports event but serves as the symbol of global peace. It is in this vein that IOC President Thomas Bach plans to visit North Korea by the end of the year to support North Korean athletes to participate in the PyeongChang Winter Olympics. Russian athletes have also been allowed to take part as neutral athletes under the Olympic flag although their country has been suspended from the committee. Yet, Haley’s comments barely held a hint of consideration for athletes who have shed sweat and tears over the last four years.

In an interview with Fox News on Sunday, Haley has confirmed that all U.S. athletes will attend the PyeongChang Winter Olympics. In fact, whether the United States will join the Olympics or not should be decided not by the government, but by the United States Olympic Committee (USOC). Flip-flopping on an issue in just four days, which is not even under her jurisdiction, Haley has made a mistake as a diplomat who should be always cautious of his or her words. If it is a consolation, with Haley solving a problem she herself created, a roller-coaster Pyeongchang is again going upward. May the ride continue to soar skyward with the worldwide attention.