Holding the Olympics near the world’s most heavily fortified border will be a dramatic symbol of their power to remind us what the world can be.
North and South Korea re-opened a hotline last week for the first time in two years and, among other things, talked about North Korea’s participation in the Winter Olympics. Incredibly, North Korea now says it is planning to send athletes, officials and a cheer squad to the upcoming Games.
As Defense Secretary James Mattis cautioned, it is too soon to know if this is a one-off or “a real olive branch.” But if nothing else, the two sides are talking to each other — and about figure skaters. It’s a welcome deviation from the customary bellicose rhetoric.
The Olympics are less than month away, and familiar alarm bells have been sounded. Before London and Sochi, the coverage featured as much talk about terror as swimming and skiing. In Rio, we were told that Zika-carrying mosquitoes were set to take over every venue. But those concerns, which never materialized, pale in comparison to the dangerous prospect that a South Korean Olympics presents: a threat from North Korea, just 50 miles away from the heart of these Games, and a leader who says “a nuclear button is always on my desk.” But what if South Korea actually turns out to be the best possible place for the Olympics?
The massive security operations at every Olympics, while they will be on high alert in Pyeongchang, have been a model of success in the post-9/11 world. And, alongside the dangers, there’s a symbolic point to be made this time — the location of these Games couldn’t…