Winter Olympics Build Bridges for International Community

Just mentioning the word Olympics in a crowd of Utahns brings waves of nostalgia and tales of volunteering, attending an event or sporting a Roots beret during the 2002 winter games.

The Olympics have a unique way of uniting not only the host city or country, but the world. More than 80 countries gather together to compete and celebrate people who have pushed themselves to the peak of human performance. There is a feeling of comradery as people from different locations, cultures and ethnicities unite to cheer on their country’s athletes and celebrate being a citizen of the world.

At a time when there is political unrest, rising ethnic tensions and a movement toward isolationism, the Olympic Games are just what the world needs.

PyeongChang Olympics

The 2018 Games in PyeongChang, Korea will be the 23rd Winter Olympics. South Korea hosted the Summer Olympics in 1988, but this is the first time it will host the Winter Olympics. New venues have been built, other buildings renovated and new trains added in preparation for this worldwide celebration.

Athletes at the Winter Olympics will compete over 17 days in 102 events in 15 sport disciplines. By the end of the games, 102 medals will have been awarded.

Utah has a special connection to South Korea through the shared experience of hosting the Winter Olympics. We also share a connection through business and trade.

South Korea is in the top 10 export destinations for Utah products. In 2016, Utah exported an estimated $318 million worth of goods to the country. These exports included food products, chemicals, and computer and electronic products. South Korea was a location for a Utah trade mission in March 2016 and will be visited on a World Trade Center Utah trade mission in September 2017.

Utah companies in South Korea

There are many Utah companies with subsidiaries in South Korea, including Merit Medical, Novell and Nu Skin Enterprises. Other Utah companies have just started exporting their products to this Asian nation.

Merit Medical, a medical device company that focuses on minimally invasive procedures, has been doing business in South Korea for 25 years through the help of local distribution partners. The company established an office in Seoul in 2013 and sells products to interventional cardiology and radiology departments of hospitals.

Operating in the world’s 10th largest medical device market has been fruitful for Merit. Many Asian doctors visit South Korea for trainings and conferences. Merit Medical’s products are used during trainings and demonstrations, which has increased their sales across the Asia Pacific region. Merit has achieved 20 percent compound annual growth rate since it established its South Korea office.

While some Utah companies have been established in South Korea for years, others are just getting started.

FiberFix, a company that markets household and professional repair products, is an example of a Utah company that recently jumped into the South Korean market with the help of World Trade Center Utah and the Governor’s Office of Economic Development. Since attending a trade mission to South Korea and Taiwan in March 2017, FiberFix has achieved more than $100,000 in sales in South Korea. It expects that number to at least double by next year.


Utah has many connections to South Korea and to the Olympics. Some U.S. athletes are sure to wear brands or use products from companies with a Utah connection. Amer Sports, a sporting goods company with its U.S. headquarters in Ogden, Utah, is likely to be represented in PyeongChang with international recognized brands such as Salomon, Wilson, Atomic and Precor.

The unifying aspect of the Olympics is what makes it so special. Everyone has a connection. Whether it is an athlete from a home state or province competing, a local company’s product being used or simply resonating with a story of triumph or tragedy, the Olympics have power to unite the world.

Banner photo by Steve Greenwood

Derek B. Miller is president and CEO of World Trade Center Utah, an organization dedicated to helping Utah companies think, act and succeed globally.