It's not that simple, because Olympics host city selection is a complicated interplay between the political and economic environments of the world when the host city selection process is playing out. This run of Olympics is happening in Asia largely because of the financial crisis in 2008.
The bidding for the 2018 games began in the summer of 2009. Back then, you may recall, the world was just beginning to shake off an economic crisis. While stock markets were recovering, the unemployment rate in the U.S. continued to climb and was approaching 10 percent, and a sovereign debt crisis was still destabilizing Europe. This was not the best environment for politicians in democratically governed countries to submit bids to host an expensive global spectacle.
Three cities bid to host the 2018 games: Pyeongchang in South Korea, Munich in Germany and Annecy in France. This was fewer than the seven cities that applied to host the 2014 games. Both of the European bids came from Europe's core rather than the peripheral countries that had so many problems with their sovereign debt in 2010 and 2011, as the bid process was ongoing. Ultimately, Pyeongchang was chosen to host.
Vice President Mike Pence returned to Washington late Saturday after leading the U.S. delegation to Friday’s opening ceremony. Mr. Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, who serves in the White House as an unpaid adviser to her father, will lead a delegation to the closing ceremony.
Cyberattack Caused Olympic Opening Ceremony Disruption
Just as the 2018 selection process occurred in the aftershocks of an economic crisis, the 2020 process began during the era of austerity that followed. While New York bid for the 2012 Summer Games and President Barack Obama tried to help Chicago's bid for the 2016 Summer Games, the U.S. chose not to bid for the 2020 games. Rome initially intended to bid for the 2020 games but, perhaps because of the ongoing sovereign debt crisis, pulled its bid at the last minute because of lack of support from the government. The final shortlist was Tokyo, Madrid and Istanbul. Perhaps because of ongoing economic problems in Spain, and political instability in Turkey, Tokyo represented the safest bet.
Then there's 2022: the Olympics that nobody wanted. The bid process began in 2013 at a time when economies had stabilized, but it still didn't feel like a robust expansion in many countries. Governments had yet to emerge from a cycle of austerity. By late 2014, only two bids remained to host the 2022 games — Almaty, Kazahkstan, and Beijing, China. When your choices are China or a country with an economy smaller than Iraq's or Algeria's, you pick China.
The good news is that the economic and political environments have recovered enough to get Western countries interested in hosting the Olympics again. If the site selection process before the financial crisis was fraught with corruption and sticking unprepared cities with expensive boondoggles — think the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi and the 2016 Summer Games in Rio — then perhaps this new era represents a more prudent, thoughtful environment of putting Olympics in countries with stable political climates that are wealthy enough to handle the responsibility. Paris, chosen to host the 2024 Summer Games, and Los Angeles, host of the 2028 Summer Games, are both global cities that have hosted the Olympics before. While it's still early in the bidding process for the 2026 Winter Games, expect rationality to prevail there as well.
The evolution of the Olympics site selection process over the past generation provides a glimmer of hope for those seeking better governance beyond the hosting of global sports events. For too long, being chosen to host the Olympics left cities with a legacy of debt and vacant, decaying venue sites. It's no wonder cities have become reluctant to take on the burden of hosting. Perhaps it took continued crises and blatant corruption to change that culture. If a reformed, chastened International Olympics Committee can pull off successive Olympic Games without repeating the boondoggles, it'll go a long way toward restoring trust. And if it works for the Olympics, maybe there's hope for other public works and social programs too.
Japan’s occupation of the Korean Peninsula was marked with humanitarian atrocities ranging from forced prostitution of Korean women to forced labor. Though relations between the two nations have arguably improved, Japan’s occupation still remains a provocative subject for many South Koreans, particularly among the older generation. Disputes over its shared past are still a point of contention today.
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Philip Gray at [email protected]
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A cyberattack caused the internet disruptions during the Winter Olympics’ opening ceremony on Friday night, Olympic officials and security experts said.
Jihye Lee, a spokesman for the Pyeongchang Organizing Committee, confirmed Sunday that “the technology issues experienced Friday night were caused by a cyberattack.”
Mr. Lee did not elaborate on the cause but said that the attack had been quickly addressed and that systems had been stabilized by Sunday.
The cyberattack took out internet access and telecasts, grounded broadcasters’ drones, shut down the Pyeongchang 2018 website, and prevented spectators from printing out reservations and attending the ceremony, which resulted in an unusually high number of empty seats.
Security experts said they had uncovered evidence that the attack had been in the works since late last year. It was directed at the Pyeongchang Organizing Committee and incorporated code that was specifically designed to disrupt the Games or perhaps even send a political message.
“This attacker had no intention of leaving the machine usable,” a team of researchers at Cisco’s Talos threat intelligence division wrote in an analysis Monday. “The purpose of this malware is to perform destruction of the host” and “leave the computer system offline.”
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In an interview, Talos researchers noted that there was a nuance to the attack that they had not seen before: Even though the hackers clearly demonstrated that they had the ability to destroy victims’ computers, they stopped short of doing so. They erased only backup files on Windows machines and left open the possibility that responders could still reboot the computers and fix the damage.
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“Why did they pull their punch?” asked Craig Williams, a senior technical leader at Talos. “Presumably, it’s making some political message” that they could have done far worse, he said.
Talos’s findings matched those of other internet security companies, like CrowdStrike, which determined on Monday that the attacks had been in the works since at least December. Adam Meyers, vice president of intelligence at CrowdStrike, said his team had discovered time stamps that showed the destructive payload that hit the opening ceremony was constructed on Dec. 27 at 11:39 a.m. Coordinated Universal Time — which converts to 6:39 a.m. Eastern Time, 2:39 p.m. in Moscow and 8:39 p.m. in South Korea.
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Attackers clearly had a target in mind: The word Pyeongchang2018.com was hard-coded into their payload, as was a set of stolen credentials belonging to Pyeongchang Olympic officials. Those stolen credentials allowed attackers to spread their malware throughout the computer networks that support the Winter Games on Friday, just as the opening ceremony was timed to begin.
Security companies would not say definitively who was behind the attack, but some digital crumbs led to a familiar culprit: Fancy Bear, the Russian hacking group with ties to Russian intelligence services. Fancy Bear was determined to be the more brazen of the two Russian hacking groups behind an attack on the Democratic National Committee ahead of the 2016 presidential election.
Beginning in November, CrowdStrike’s intelligence team witnessed Fancy Bear attacks that stole credentials from an international sports organization, Mr. Meyers said. He declined to identify the victim but suggested that the credential thefts were similar to the ones that hackers would have needed before their opening ceremony attack.
On Wednesday, two days before the ceremony, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs made an apparent attempt to pre-empt any accusations of Russian cyberattacks on the Games. In a statement, released in English, German and Russian, the agency accused Western governments, press and information security companies of waging an “information war” accusing Russia of “alleged cyber interference” and “planning to attack the ideals of the Olympic movement.”
This was not the first Olympic opening ceremony that was a target for hackers. In the lead-up to the 2012 London Games, investigators uncovered attack tools and the blueprints to the Olympic stadium’s building management systems on a hacker’s computer.
It appeared that hackers planned to take out the power to the stadium, said Oliver Hoare, who led cybersecurity matters for the London Games. But officials successfully prevented an attack.
Pyeongchang Winter Olympics opening disrupted by malware attack
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