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Why the Pyeongchang Games Are Different From All the Others

February 17,2018 20:09

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — In the Gangneung Hockey Centre, the four-faced video screen in the middle of the rink puts on a show every time a penalty is called. Words like “Interference” and “Tripping” materialize in turquoise blue and start to giddily ...and more »

Initially, of course, the mind goes straight to nuclear Armageddon. Then you learn that these alerts land almost daily, and they provide, for instance, a heads-up about how dry weather could cause fires. During a super windy day, an extreme alert was issued about the wind. At some point, your cellphone beeps and you barely notice.
What lasts longer is the jet lag. There is a 14-hour gap between here and New York, and a 17-hour gap between here and Los Angeles. Even if you’re a seasoned traveler, this yields a stupor that actually reduces I.Q. For the first day or two, words that were once readily accessible seem to be hiding.
This exacerbates a different challenge, namely grasping time in the rest of the world. It’s a matter of subtraction because Pyeongchang is ahead of the United States, not behind. Here, 10 p.m. Eastern Time is noon the next day. Talk on the phone to anyone in the United States and you are living in their tomorrow. Globetrotters and expats here may think that is ho-hum. For everyone else, it’s a bit freaky.
Once acclimated, you can focus on everything that sets this place apart. Like its immaculateness. Venues are spotless. Before medal ceremonies, a video describes “Ceremony Etiquette,” which includes a reminder to keep the place clean by “putting the trash where it belongs!” Unlike plenty of other places — Fenway Park and Yankee Stadium come to mind — people seem to listen.
There is also an emphasis on politesse. When someone hands you something, it is rarely with one outstretched hand. Its either with two hands or with one hand touching the second near the elbow. The odd thing is that once you get used to it, the single outstretched hand from friends does start to feel a bit ill-mannered.

Olympic Games (2018),Pyeongchang (South Korea)

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