Dennis Rodman famously made a pair of trips to North Korea, and now the Canadian man named Michael Spavor who made that happen is now trying to bring a hockey tournament to the nation to allow former NHL players to visit as well.
According to The Japan Times, the tournament is scheduled for March 7-11 in Pyongyang. Spavor, who organized the tournament told The Times that hockey, “could be a unique way to build friendships and trust” between Canada and North Korea.
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Spavor lived in Pyongyang for six months back in 2005, and worked as a teacher at a school with Vancouver ties. He even speaks the North Korean dialect, according to Maclean’s.
“In Canada, hockey is the national sport, and we thought that hockey could be an excellent nonpolitical medium to build trust and friendships that could help ease tension and mistrust due to other situations,” he told The Times.
Spavor has met North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on multiple occasions, The Times says that he first introduced the Pyongyang International Friendship Ice Hockey Exhibition more than a decade ago.
As aforementioned, the tournament will feature current and former professional players, but Spavor would not specify who the players were.
Whether or not he’s able to completely bridge the gap that exists with Canada and North Korea, Spavor is in favor of at least dismissing stereotypical ideology:
“Peaceful sport and cultural exchanges between countries and individuals, who are not on the best of terms, have taken place throughout history. In my experience, these events have the possibility of easing tensions but at the very least, the involved individuals or athletes can break down or dismiss their preconceived negative ideas about each other, and have an amazing time.”
Surely getting noteworthy people does bring some sort of ease to the tension, but the situation is still pretty rocky, and even delicate for some.
But there’s no doubt that sport can bring even the most different of people or nations together.
[Japan Times/Photo: Michael Spavor]