Korea Torched Live ‘Peace Doves’ The Last Time They Hosted the Olympics
The 2018 Winter Olympics are just around the corner, with the Opening Ceremony taking place Friday, February 9. Fans of the games are gearing up to watch as South Korea parades its culture for all to see in the highly anticipated televised event.
Koreans, on the other hand, couldn’t be more excited. They’re pulling out all the stops to generate buzz, including creating a song for the torch ceremony and even having a robot as one of the relay runners. The planners even asked Big Bang’s Taeyang to compose and sing the official Winter Olympics fight song, “Louder”. Talk about an honor!
Naturally, the event is a massive undertaking, and planning requires careful consideration to ensure nothing goes wrong. Luckily, this isn’t their first Olympics — South Korea hosted the Summer Games 30 years ago in 1988 — so they’re accustomed to running this kind of show. Of course, not everything always goes according to plan, and mishaps are bound to happen…
…just like last time.
On September 17, 1988, the Games of the XXIV Olympiad commenced. Spirits were high as over 8,000 athletes piled into the stadium, with thousands of excited fans in the stands to cheer them on. The official song of the 1988 Olympics, “Hand in Hand”, was unveiled, a powerful duet that is still sung to this day.
Everything was going beautifully, each perfectly timed activity blending seamlessly into each other. The traditional Japanese peace doves were released, and the torch relay came to an end as the last runners made their way to the Olympic cauldron.
Up, up, up! The three athletes ascended, slowly making their way to the top of the cauldron on specialized elevators, torches in hand. A hush fell over the audience, who then gradually started applauding as the trio neared the top.
The crowd and viewers at home couldn’t help but notice that the doves, a longstanding symbol of peace between nations, were perched in the cauldron, unsure of their surroundings and where to fly next.
Perhaps the athletes didn’t notice the doves.
Perhaps they thought they’d already flown away.
Perhaps they believed the doves would take flight once they noticed the flames.
Whatever the case may be, the athletes lit the cauldron in unison, quickly igniting the entire basin and fatally incinerating the doves within. The cameramen acted swiftly, panning to the audience instead of the flock of floundering fowl flailing helplessly for their lives. But it was too late; the doves, once happily nestled high atop a structure seemingly made for them, were burned to a crisp in front of billions of horrified viewers.
The death of the doves sparked massive protests, which resulted in future Olympic ceremonies omitting the use of live birds altogether, replacing the paragons of peace with balloons or paper renditions instead.
Certainly, South Korea is hoping to make an impact while hosting these Olympic games; here’s to hoping it’s not in the same manner as last time.