TEDDY AUMAN– In 2011, the Olympic Committee selected South Korea as the host of the 2018 Winter Games. This year’s Winter Games will be South Korea’s second as a host nation, and their first since the summer of 1988.

This winter’s Olympic Games will be organized in two separate locations: a mountain and coastal cluster, located 20 kilometers apart.

The preparation for the Winter Games in South Korea began immediately after the end of the Sochi Games in 2014. Construction of all the stadiums and buildings was scheduled to take three years, but finished six months ahead of schedule.

Unlike most Olympic Games, Pyeongchang, South Korea already has seven of required 13 venues, bringing the developmental expenses down to $9 billion. That is extremely reasonable in comparison to 2014, where Sochi’s arrangements for the games totaled nearly $50 billion!

Politics and proximity to North Korea have been a concern regarding the Olympics. Throughout 2017, North Korean leader, Kim Jong-Un, has continued to perform missile launch testings. These testings have been performed around the country of North Korea and have led to some dangerously close calls for neighboring South Korea.

As tensions rose, there was a recent break in the high strings between North and South Korea. North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in agreed to perform in the Olympics as a united team.

This pairing marks the first time the two countries will have been unified for the Olympic Games since the 2006 Winter Olympics. This unity shows how global events such as the Olympics can create reconciliation between even some of the highest tensions in the world today.

Aside from the biggest reconciliation of the two countries, a significant controversy has surrounded a perennial powerhouse in the Winter Game: Russia.

In the later part of 2017, the Olympic Committee found Russia guilty of doping (steroids) their athletes over a series of multiple Olympic Games. Their verdict for punishing Russia for these actions included stripping them of multiple medals from recent years, and banning them from competing in this year’s Winter Games.

With Russia disqualified from participating in the Olympics games, it opens the door for other competing nations (namely the United States and Canada, among others) to leave this year’s competitions with some hardware

The NHL decided to follow suit on April 3, 2017, when they officially declared they would be banning players from participating in the 2018 Winter Games. This ban came after the NHL reached a decision that the Winter Games did not benefit the league, but rather was a risk of injury for players under contract. The ban will put an end to five consecutive winter games with NHL players representing their respective countries.

Putting the controversy aside, the 2018 Winter Olympic Games will be one to remember without a doubt. In fact, it is going to be the largest ever with over 80 nations competing in approximately 102 events. Even though the Olympics will be missing many key assets, it will for sure be full of tense battles between countries from all around the world.