The Olympics are all about friendship, and countries putting aside their differences in the spirit of sportsmanship. In the 2016 biopic Race for example, African-American athlete Jesse Owens participated in the 1936 Berlin Olympics, a turbulent time leading up to the Second World War. While propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels promised to allow athletes of all races to compete, Hitler himself left the stadium before the traditional handshake with the winners, in a clear show of disrespect.
Not since the 1936 Berlin Olympics has there been such a display of disrespect and disdain for the spirit of the Olympics. At the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, Vice President Mike Pence showed the ultimate in disrespect by refusing to stand with other leaders to applaud the athletes. Pence applauded for the American team only.
At the event, South Korean president Moon Jae-in referred to the “Olympic games of peace,” and stood in a rare show of diplomacy with North Korean officials to applaud their athletes, while Pence sat, stone-faced and rigid, refusing to even look at the North Koreans. Moon, despite the tension between North and South, still greeted Kim Jong Un’s sister Kim Yo Jong, as well as head of state Kim Yong Nam. Other Asian leaders, including Japanese Prime Minister Abe, greeted Kim Yong Nam.
The aggressive move on the part of Vice President Pence fans the flames of discord unnecessarily. The Olympics are a time for unity. It would have been better for Vice President Pence to not attend at all, rather than show his disrespect not only North Korea, but all athletes participating in the games.