Strained Diplomacy and Young Excellence at the 2018 Winter Olympics


The 2018 Winter Olympics were held in PyeongChang, South Korea from February 9-25. This was the first time in 30 years the Olympics was hosted in the Republic of Korea– previously being the Seoul Olympics in 1988. The goals of this year’s Winter Olympic Games was to minimize the language barrier between participants and viewers by engaging with advanced translation technology, as well as promote industry and tourism within Korea, as listed within the Winter Olympics mission statement.

Athletes represented 92 different countries with a total of 2,922 athletes overall (1,680 men and 1,242 women). There were 102 events in 15 various sports with the breakdown of snow sports, ice sports and sliding sports.

This Winter Olympics was culturally significant for a multitude of countries. Russian athletes were required to neutrally compete as “Olympic Athletes from Russia” after the 2014 Winter Olympics when the Russian Olympic Committee was suspended after the state-sponsored doping scandal emerged. The 2018 Winter Olympics also witnessed the introduction of athletes representing Ecuador, Eritrea, Kosovo, Malaysia, Nigeria and Singapore.

Possibly the most culturally remarkable event to occur this Winter Games was the participation of North Korea; entering the opening ceremony with South Korea as a unified Korea, and collaborating to create a single Korean women’s ice hockey team — despite rising political uncertainty.

Norway dominated in total medal count with 39 medals, then followed by Germany with 31, Canada with 29, the United States with 23 and the host nation South Korea with 17. Norway and Germany tied in gold medals won with 14 medals.

Three memorable athletes that won the hearts of many American viewers were Adam Rippon, Red Gerard and Chloe Kim. Rippon became the first openly gay U.S. male to win a medal at the Winter Olympics when he earned Bronze in figure skating. Gerard, only 17, slept in past his alarm after watching Netflix all night, forgot his coat, won gold and yelled an expletive in celebration — becoming the first American to medal at the 2018 Winter Olympics. Kim, also 17, was noted to be tweeting during the women’s halfpipe qualifications saying, “Could be down for some ice cream rn,” then winning gold only a few minutes afterwards. 

The 2018 Winter Olympics were, for many young Americans viewing, a time of lauding the excellence of the incoming generation and witnessing an array of athletes that represent their identity more openly than past United States Olympic teams were allowed to present.

To view the full listing of medals won at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games, visit the website

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