President Trump's administration is apparently considering whether it's safe for U.S. athletes to compete at the February 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Nikki Haley, America's ambassador to the United Nations said Thursday that threats linked to the standoff between Washington and Pyongyang over Kim Jong Un's development of intercontinental ballistic missiles made American participation "an open question."
Concern is appreciated, but the threat is unfounded.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders says "no official decision has been made." Sanders then lent some hope on Thursday that America would participate, but we worry that further North Korean missile tests may produce excessive caution.
The North Korea crisis demands focus, and we support the Trump administration's demand that Kim not be allowed to have nuclear weapons capable of striking America. But it would be a grievous mistake to allow the tyrant to veto brilliant moments of athleticism in South Korea.
America's tradition of courageous excellence under pressure isn't measured simply by our history in war and peace. Americans have come home from many Olympic Games adorned with gold (1,118 times, to be precise). There is not need to sacrifice further glory out of fear. Absent a credible threat of imminent war, America's athletes must go to Pyeongchang.
These Olympics will be safe and secure. If Team USA did not show up it would signal American weakness. Kim would ignore Trump's warnings over his missile program. China would reject pressure to strengthen sanctions against Pyongyang. Across the world, allies and adversaries would notice that the world's sole superpower became the world's only nation to stay fearfully away from South Korea (aside from the Russians, who are banned for cheating).
President Putin would chuckle over the evaporation of American resolve. South Korea would see its principal defender run away. Americans, looking in the mirror, would see weakness and fear. How far we would have come since Jesse Brown defeated Hitler's athletes in 1936 Berlin and since young Americans defined a "Miracle on Ice" in 1980 Lake Placid.
Our figure skaters, by the by, must be allowed to show they can beat the only two North Korean athletes who qualified.
Let us go. Let us win. This is the home of the brave.