The Olympics on The E.R.: What Can We Learn From Past Games Ahead of Pyeongchang?

In part one of our two-part Olympics series, print editor Sarah Wildman calls up two historians to ask what we can learn from past games ahead of the kick off in South Korea on February 9.

Adolf Hitler marches into the arena at the opening ceremony of the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin. (E. E. Williams/Keystone/Getty Images)
Adolf Hitler marches into the arena at the opening ceremony of the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin. (E. E. Williams/Keystone/Getty Images)
Adolf Hitler marches into the arena at the opening ceremony of the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin. (E. E. Williams/Keystone/Getty Images)

On February 9th, the 23rd Olympic Games kick off in South Korea. But the intrigue around the 2018 games began months ago. Back in December, the Russian Federation was banned from the games for after a 16-month investigation into illegal doping. And, as was just announced last week, athletes from North Korea will compete under the South Korean banners.

Do the games promote international comity, or do they highlight enmity? When does nationalism give way to internationalism? What can we learn from the contemporary response to the 1936 games hosted by Nazi Germany? Does an “Olympic Truce” exist?

Daniel Greene is a professor of history at Northwestern University and a guest exhibition curator at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.

On February 9th, the 23rd Olympic Games kick off in South Korea. But the intrigue around the 2018 games began months ago. Back in December, the Russian Federation was banned from the games for after a 16-month investigation into illegal doping. And, as was just announced last week, athletes from North Korea will compete under the South Korean banners.

Do the games promote international comity, or do they highlight enmity? When does nationalism give way to internationalism? What can we learn from the contemporary response to the 1936 games hosted by Nazi Germany? Does an “Olympic Truce” exist?

Daniel Greene is a professor of history at Northwestern University and a guest exhibition curator at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.

David Clay Large is a professor at the University of California, Berkeley and a current FP contributor.

Emily Tamkin is a reporter for Foreign Policy, covering embassies and diplomats. Follow her on Twitter: @emilyctamkin

Sarah Wildman is Foreign Policy’s print editor. Follow her on Twitter: @SarahAWildman

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