SEOUL, Aug. 18 (Korea Bizwire) – The 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio are approaching their end, and South Korea has so far progressed with rather unsatisfactory results – currently ranked eleventh with seven gold medals – compared to the past two summer Olympics in London (fifth place with 13 gold medals) and Beijing (seventh place with 13 gold medals). Along with the discouraging results, the general public in Korea has also shown a lack of interest in this year’s games.
The 12-hour time difference between Rio de Janeiro and Korea, on top of the disappointing performance by Korean athletes, are among the biggest factors.
“The events take place at completely opposite hours, so it’s a bit inconvenient,” said a 47-year-old office worker from Chuncheon. As a working man, he can’t afford to stay up all night to watch the games and face exhaustion at work the next day. Being an avid soccer fan, he was also disappointed with the national soccer team this year, which failed to make it to the semifinals.
“If the soccer team hadn’t been eliminated, I would have stayed up, and I might have watched other events, too. I was disappointed.”
Another office worker, Jung (37), also pointed to the time difference.
“I think the lack of support for the athletes this year is because of the time difference,” said Jung. “Since most people have to work the next day, they can’t afford to watch the events live, so instead they turn to the highlights on their mobile the following morning.”
Street crowds cheering for Korean athletes and national squads were less visible this year as well.
“We had some hugely popular athletes during London 2012 and Beijing 2008, but there aren’t as many Olympians this year that I personally favor,” said 48-year-old Lee from Seoul. “Maybe it’s their poor performances that sort of cooled down the Olympic fever.”
Other domestic issues, such as the weak economy, have pressed Koreans to focus on more realistic matters than on a far-away sporting event on TV.
College student Lee Min-woo (26) is more worried about finding his first job amid Korea’s poor youth employment rate than on the Olympic games.
“I need to start looking for a job soon, and I don’t have the luxury to sit and enjoy the Olympics,” said Lee. “My foremost priority is to improve my resume, like boosting my English test scores or having an internship experience.”
“The more urgent matter now for Koreans is individual livelihood, and there’s little room in their minds for the Olympics,” said Lee Young-joo, a senior researcher at the Research Institute for Gangwon. “This year’s games seem to have lacked messages of hope that could perhaps have encouraged them to overcome such economic issues.”
“Promotional campaigns alone are not enough to attract people’s attention to the Olympics. Raising awareness of Korean athletes, and supporting athletes to improve on their skills are more important.”
By Joseph Shin (firstname.lastname@example.org)