tv Washington Journal Eric Zillmer CSPAN February 8, 2018 10:25pm-10:54pm EST
employer-based health care with margot sanger katz of "the new york times." and national security institute found er with the latest on the house intelligence committee mem memos. join the discussion. c-span. where history unfolds daily. in 1979, c-span was created as a public service by america's cable television companies. and is brought to you today by your cable or satellite provider. athletes competed in the first events of the winter olympics in south korea today. on "washington journal," we talk to drexel university's athletic director about the history of the olympic games and their role in politics. this is a half hour. >> joining us is dr. eric
zillmer from drexel university, here to talk about politics and the olympic games. good morning, sir. dr. zillmer, how political do olympic games generally get? how much more this year because they're in south korea? >> yeah, welcome to the 23rd winter olympic games, known as the political games. they've been political from the beginning of time. even when the first olympics was staged in 776 b.c., the powers to be placed it in a sleepy little village called olympia to get away from perception there might be power associated with a town or a region. since then, especially the selection of where the olympics are being hosted, has become a political hot potato. just think about four years ago on in sochi. now in pyeongchang, korea. a mere 50 miles away from the border of north korea. and in 2012, in beijing, china.
it's a far cry away from st. moritz and the country clubs of winter olympics in europe in the '30s and '40s. >> so with this games in south korea, is there a particular political concern or at least a political outcome because of the location that you described? >> yeah, of course. as you know, north and south korea are basically in a cease-fire. they're at war. there's a demilitarized zone. it's similar to thinking about the cold war, if east and west germany in the '60s, east germany trying to field an olympic team and was only allowed to do it later in the '60s, then competed as a country. of course, north korea has sports. and the first political item on the agenda was, would they actually show up to an olympics staged in their neighbor? they will, they're sending a
delegation of athletes. first they're going to have an integrated women's ice hockey team called korea. and members of the south korean, the north korean ice hockey members, will play on the same team. so i do feel that even though all the olympics are political -- mind you, there's issues going on within the olympics. cheating, gender issues, the nhl, the professional nhl ice hockey players are not sending their players. there's always the weather. and of course there is the politics of the medal count, also known as "my way of life is better than your way of life." but the fact that it's in south korea, and it's that close to north korea, and of all the things we've discussed on your channel about the politics in that region, it's going to be pretty interesting. >> what does history tell us about politics overshadowing the games themselves, and what's the potential of that playing out in these games?
>> history tells us that the moment the flame is lit, the moment the puck drops, only the sports matter. only the athletes. and that moment that we will watch sometimes lasts a lifetime. that's what history tells us. whether it's the hitler olympics in 1936, or the tainted olympics in sochi with the human rights violation, and the post-olympics invasion of crimea. but we'll have to see. because this is unlike anything else. right now, the news is full about the politics of the games. and not necessarily whether lindsey vonn, our wonderful downhill skier, is going to win gold medal going down this mountain at 70 miles an hour. it's really a sight to behold. so it's going to be interesting. >> eric zillmer, dr. zillmer of drexel university joining us until 9:00 for discussion about the olympic games and particularly politics within
those games. if you want to ask him questions, you can call on the lines. 202-748-1001 for republican, 748-1002 for independents, 748-1003 for democrats. internal politics, we had the issue with larry nassar and the scandal there. does that play out to these games? they're winter games but overall do they play out on this kind of stage? >> i feel, yes. because it was such a big scandal. it affected the gymnastic olympic team. look, pedro, the way i look at sports, you can't separate it from any of the social issues that we as a society deal with. i think sports and music and art are a way to examine our culture. so whether it's cheating or race discrimination or how do you win, how do you lose, sports plays a role in being a catalyst for social change.
and so people are going to look at the medical coverage and how athletes are being evaluated by physicians. as they should. so i do feel that in the background, this is an issue. but it's not as big as russia, for example, being banned from these games. i mean, that's big news, right? which is overshadowed, i believe, by the fact of the location of the olympics. but all these things are important. and i think they should be important. because sports is about winning with grace, and losing with grace. but also about how do you position yourself as a country, as a team, as an athlete in terms of trying to follow the highest level of integrity in exercising your sport. >> you mentioned the russia situation. there's a story in the "new york times" today, there are several athletes from russia still unsure if they can participate or not. how will that be treated? >> well, the whole doping mess is i think at a stalemate. there is so much science trying to promote doping for athletes.
there's tremendous pressure by many athletes to make a living. then there is this anti-doping agency trying to catch up with all these things that are happening, from blood doping to using performance-enhancing drugs. in sochi there was systematic switching of urine samples by the russian government, to the point where they're not being allowed to participate in these games. so yeah, i think it's a big issue. >> the storyline says the russians continue to deny the existence of a state-sponsored doping program. our first call, sam in thousand oaks, california, you're on with our guest, good morning, go ahead. >> caller: hi, good morning. thank you for taking my call. so i have a simple question on the politics of medal count. i've noticed both summer and winter olympics, just about every other country measures the winners by the number of gold medals. whereas in the u.s., we measure
by overall medals. and that creates a discrepancy between who won. what are your thoughts on that? thank you. >> yeah, it's a -- i love this question. it's a good question. you can answer it, of course, yourself. which is more important? by the way, for the first time, over 100 medal events, over 100 gold medals are being given out. the largest winter olympics ever staged. this thing is growing. and so i think every country measures it differently in terms of how well they will do. norway is favored to win the most medals. they have in the past. and they're favored to do so. america is better off if they want to look at it this way -- by the way, this medal count could be a cheaper way than hosting a military parade to show pride for your country. although we'll see. so the medal count, if you have just all the medals, which is gold, silver, and bronze
accumulated, you know, the american team will look better in the view of global sports. other teams that are smaller and have more gold medals could look better. so every country measures themselves differently. and there's really no agreed-upon way of looking at it. in fact, many of the sports stations that cover the sports will do the medal count at the end, just sort of like an afterthought. you really don't want -- it's about the athletes, about countries competing against each other. yes, it's symbolic of political warfare, especially during the cold war, where east bloc countries were more successful in sports than the west bloc. mind you, in rio, the usa won 121 medals. and the next country was at 60. and the american women, if they were a country, they would have been the fifth most successful nation on this planet. >> from john in del rio, texas,
republican line, you're next. >> caller: yes. i was curious. what if the north korean athletes decide to defect? do you have something set up for them? >> yeah, another good question. this happened during the cold war routinely. and so east german and romanian and soviet athletes would go on an international competition. what happened then, my sister was an olympic figure skater during that time, in 1968, in grenoble, france. i remember that it was an amazing amount of security forces with those athletes. i also remember during the cold war that all of these athletes had families back home, and they would be scrutinized if their family members would have been defecting. nevertheless, many did. i think that, first of all, it's a small delegation that north korea is entering. i think around 50 athletes. i think they've been all vetted.
and i don't believe that these athletes are going to defect into south korea. it would make news if that happens, though. >> the last couple of days there was news kim jong-un's sister will be part of the delegation attending. what do you think about that decision by the north korean government? >> yeah, it's common to have people who are politicians or of high-level monarchs or ranking people visit the olympics. our vice president will be there from the united states. i think it's a good thing. you're seeing a lot of -- you're seeing some interaction between north and south korea that you would not have seen outside of sports. so this is truly a sports diplomacy. and so the issues are, are they really to be higher-level interactions between north and south korea? just around the olympics? or after the olympics? but it's an interesting sign if one were to think of this as
progress, that the two countries are talking to each other. and playing with each other on the level of a sports competition. you know, the opening ceremonies, as you know, they're interesting. all the countries walk in with their flag. the first country that walks in is greece, the ancient mother and father of the olympic games. then every country comes in. it will be interesting to see when the democratic people's republic of korea will enter the stadium, what kind of response will there be? when the koreans -- the koreans, by the way, south koreans are very proud people. i've been to athletic events just two years ago, in cuonzo, south korea. 11,000 athletes under the age of 26 competed. they do an excellent job organizing and hosting these games as they have with the seoul olympics. you may remember they staged the fifa world cup with japan,
together. so they have a long history of actually being very highly organized for events like this. so i believe that this is going to be a really interesting, well-organized winter olympics. >> steven in laurel, maryland, democrats' line. >> caller: hi. i have two questions. one is, what's the relationship with the middle eastern countries? i know there's the -- israel and the murders that happened at the olympics. also syria, i guess, last year there was some defections as well. and then my second question is, what's the -- who subsidizes versus how many -- how privatized are the athletes? so some countries, their governments subsidize. other countries, it's all private enterprise. i was wondering what are the differences in terms of competition? >> yeah, so your first item was
1972, during the summer olympics in munich. i lived there at the time. my father is a west point grad. he was a colonel in the cold war. i was at those olympics when international terrorist organization entered the olympic village, held hostage the israeli wrestling team, and killed them. and in return, the german authorities killed all the hostage-takers. and so this was a big event surrounding the olympics. one of the controversies back then, whether the athletes should compete while hostages have been taken in the village. and avery brundage, president of the ioc, said they would. mark spitz, american swimmer, won a gold medal while there were hostage negotiations taking place a half mile away. think about that. so that's what you were talking about. we were not prepared for that in 1972. in 1968, when my sister was
competing, i was able to walk into the olympic village without any security clearance. now, in 2018, there are 2,000 athletes, approximately. 5,000 police forces. 10,000 security. and, look, russia paid $50 billion to host their olympics. a lot of that infrastructure goes into security. your second question about how athletes fund themselves. it's a good question. how do you follow that olympic dream? my sister skated for west germany. and the german government gave her a stipend each month to be able to allow her to compete. in the united states, it's more decentralized. we have national governing bodies that do help. but as you know, we're a country that's privatized. we believe in entrepreneurship. so for many athletes, especially individual athletes, like somebody in luge or a ski jumper or an ice skater, they would have to find personal and
private resources through sponsorships or through donations. or they have accumulated wealth. so it is expensive. it takes time away from working. and you have to find -- you have to be very good to be in the olympics. you also have to be an entrepreneur, figure out a way to support yourself while you're doing so. >> doctor, about these governing bodies you speak about, the ioc, u.s. olympic committee, talk about how they're comprised and have there been controversies within these committees and bodies? >> i think it works relatively well. i'm an ncaa liaison to the united states olympic committee. i visit in colorado springs and watch how they organize themselves. and they give enough freedom to the individual sports, like figure skating or skiing, for example, to allow them to pursue their own mission while creating an infrastructure of high-performance excellence, in
terms of having a high-performance center in colorado springs, providing sponsorships and overall guidance. i think -- look, it's a business, right? if you win 121 medals in rio, your business is doing pretty well. so i think that not only do we have the best athletes in the world, i think we have the best organization in the world. typically in sports, the team that's most organized will win. so i feel that this has done well. and mind you, we've got some interesting u.s. athletes coming up. shaun white in the halfpipe. lindsey vonn, who i think the premier event will be the figure skating and the downhill runs. for the united states to see lindsey vonn come back from injury, the most successful skier on this planet. it's all about what's right about america is captured in one person. and she's a woman. and she also comes down a mountain. at a high speed. it's going to be really
electric, that two minutes of her coming down, can she do it, can she not fall, can she win a medal? that's going to be electric. i think it will put everything into the background about all the things that deal with the politics. >> but you've mentioned the doping situation earlier, we talked about larry nassar. do these bodies have more onus to investigate these things and prevent them from happening? >> yeah, the doping situation is more centralized. in fact, there's a world doping agency that's trying to manage it internationally. and so you have to -- you have an international governing body that's looking at the world of doping. you have to have doping throughout the year when you practice. especially sports that are high-performance, like that use a lot of aerobic energy. like skiing, like cross country skiing. in fact, the tures doper who was ever caught in doping was 1968, he was a cross country skier. if you have to cross country ski
for 30 kilometers, some people feel it's like in bicycling. that they can't do it without doping. the idea how our teams are being managed medically is interesting. i think it's more decentralized. and you see a lot of athletes have their own physicians and doctors and medical teams and trainers. so i think one of these -- this incredible controversy and tragedy that happened in usa gymnastics, i think the only silver lining is we need to look at how we manage our athletes medically and how we protect our young people. my sister in the 1968 olympics was 15 years old. she had 10 males managing her. sports administrators. and so, you know -- we've come a long way. so i feel that the medical coverage -- it's a good time now
to examine how we manage that. >> from attleboro, massachusetts, independent line, sandra, go ahead. >> caller: hi. our children are being sent to the olympics. and their parents usually with them, supposedly. and then we have all these people in place that supposedly take care of their health and well-being. and yet they were being molested right and left. and who is going to pay the consequences of that? and pay the consequences of these children that come back with mental injuries in the end because of the fact that they were -- >> sorry, sandra. dr. zillmer, go ahead. >> yeah, sandra, you're right. this was an illegal action, what happened with usa gym that issics, exposed 150 athletes to
a situation where they were abused. it is a really, really serious situation. it's just going to be hard to undo. the civil costs of that will be staggering. how parents interact with athletes is interesting. a lot of times the athlete doesn't want the parent to be at the event. it's just so distracting. not only worry about going down a wlunlg, which is basically a cafeteria tray going down a mountain at 60, 70 miles an hour, and having your family and your cousins and what are you doing after the event? so a lot of athletes decide to go alone. and a lot of parents, by the way, decide to go without telling their children, and are sort of separately now supporting them in the audience. but for my family, my mother was the coach. and so sometimes parents can play a role in supporting their children. it's up to the athlete.
but when you're dealing with the abuse that we documented -- whether it was penn state with sandusky in football, or with usa gymnastics, these things are ton in secrecy. part of the m.o. -- i know this as a psychology professor, manipulation is secrecy, making the victim feel like they're really not a victim, so they get tricked. and so they can even keep it from their own family and the families of those people that they're abusing. and that's what you're facing when you're looking at this type of abuse. >> doctor, you mentioned the vice president arriving for the games. "usa today" reporting this morning that his arrival comes as he's been at the center of trump administration efforts to downplay the significance of the recent thaw between north korea and south korea that has come with the 2018 winter games. have you ever seen such an agenda come from the united states before? >> well -- the united states
typically doesn't weigh in on the olympics. but yes, i've seen it before. just think about jimmy carter boycotting the summer olympics in moscow in 1980. and not allowing u.s. athletes to, who have been practicing their entire lives, to represent their country. of course, in return, the soviet union boycotted the l.a. games four years later. so yeah, i mean, that's pretty heavy-handed, isn't it, to actually say from the white house, we're not going to participate in these olympics. so i feel that it's not inappropriate, the comments that were made, for him to be there is not inappropriate. it will be interesting to see whether here's a mere spectator or trying to actually get some business done, or position the american agenda into the fabric of the olympic games. that's going to be an interesting story to follow. and so you've got all these layers. like athletic, cheating. we haven't even talked about the weather. these are the winter olympics.
in st. moritz in the second winter olympics, they had to cancel them, it was thawing, it was too warm. temperatures looking good, 30s and 20s. all the executes are somehow executed on snow or ice, that's the definition of the olympics, whether curling or biathlon, so on. we'll see how the american political agenda will be expressed through the vice president. >> victor in columbus, georgia, democrats' line, we're running short on time, go ahead, please. >> caller: yes, two questions. not necessarily related to each other. the first one, in view of global warming and the lack of especially the united states, the production of snow, have you given any consideration to that in the future of the winter games, seeing that so much snow and ice is needed for quality games? number two, we just passed a budget. how much money within the budget is honestly given to the olympic quality athletes, or the olympic
a gun if you missed the target come you have to take a punishment let. >> thank you for your time today. >> yes, thank you. >> we host a discussion on rattling sexual harassment and assault. watch the live coverage here on c-span three -- 3 your time -- new york times staff photographer talks about covering president trump. >> he enjoys having us around. despite his constant, you know, comments about fake news and the media and so forth, i really feel he enjoys having us around because it helps drive his message, drives the news of the day, which he can do every
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