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UA professor talks politics of Olympic games - KVOA | KVOA.com | Tucson, Arizona

UA professor talks politics of Olympic games

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TUCSON - The Olympic Games, at least in principle, serves as a symbol of unity among nations.

According to the Olympic Charter, one of the goals is to contribute to “building a peaceful and better world by education youth through sport.”

But just how successful in this mission?

Alex Braithwaite, associate professor at the University of Arizona’s School of Government and Public Policy, is hopeful PyeongChang Winter Games in Korea will reflect the more traditional Olympic values.

He points to North Korea’s willingness to participate in the games alongside South Korea under one flag amid high political tensions.

"I think the South Koreans who face the greatest risk from a North Korea that is out of control at times, the South Koreans probably hope that the U.S. won't be too provocative. I think South Korea believes there's a genuine opportunity here to try and open talks with North Korea about improving relations,” Braithwaite said.

The Olympics have been riddled with politics for decades.

The 1936 summer games in Berlin, Germany, served as a pedestal for Adolf Hitler to further his agenda of promoting racial superiority.

African-American sprinter Jesse Owens stole the spotlight, though, winning four gold medals.

Another example is the boycotts that took place between the former Soviet Union and the United States in 1980 and 1984 due to foreign intervention in Afghanistan.

One might wonder these days, what the Olympics are really about.

"The original spirit is that it's about the games, it's about competition but it's about friendly competition. I think all too often the politics have overshadowed this a little bit,” Braithwaite said.

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