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A Call for International Understanding

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Next week, the world will be tuning in to the 2018 Winter Olympics. Every four years, the international community turns their eyes to one of the greatest athletic events in the world. Throughout history, the Olympic Games have been regarded as a symbol of international cooperation and understanding amongst cultures, and this year is no different.

Not for the first time, North and South Korea are competing as a unified team in ice hockey, this being a strong message that peace between them might not be completely hopeless. The two countries will walk together at the inauguration, keeping alive a tradition of putting behind tensions during the Olympic season.

The Olympic Truce is a tradition that dates back to the original Olympic Games in Ancient Greece, it involved a formal ceasefire to make sure travel back and from the games was safe for athletes and spectators. In 1993, the United Nations revived the truce calling upon all nations to lay down their arms and truly embrace the spirit of international athletic competition. The two neighbouring countries agreeing to try to move past the long-standing tension between them is a great example of the benefits of diplomacy.

Sadly, this is not the biggest story about the Olympics that has made it to our media this year. Former U.S. Olympic gymnastics doctor, Larry Nassar, was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison after 156 women came forward with stories about him sexually assaulting them. His conviction is a watershed moment, showing victims around the world that their voices should be heard and sexual harassment is under no circumstances okay.

The bittersweet tale of his conviction should definitely be seen as a step in the right direction, and hopefully, the Olympic Games will showcase that international cooperation is indeed possible. This is a time for people to realize that communication is key, that speaking your story loud is just as important as listening to all voices.

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