IOC calms Winter Olympics concern amid North Korea tension

Responding to France’s sports minister raising security risks at the 2018 Olympics in South Korea, the IOC has tried to calm concern about the Winter Olympics Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea this upcoming February.

The International Olympic Committee said on Friday it has been in close contact with the United Nations and “the heads of government concerned.”

In Tianjin last month, IOC President Thomas Bach met with China President Xi Jinping, and at the UN in New York this week with South Korea President Moon Jae-in.

“In none of the discussions, has anybody expressed any doubt about the Olympic Winter Games 2018,” the IOC said in a statement.

Tensions fuelled by North Korea’s missile testing rose this week after U.S. President Donald Trump used his UN General Assembly speech to threaten its destruction. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un hit back describing Trump as “deranged.”

France’s sports minister, Laura Flessel, suggested on Thursday the national team could stay at home if its security could not be assured in South Korea.

“Athletes’ safety and security are of course a primary concern for the IOC,” the Olympic body said.

COC makes safety a priority

Olympic officials in winter sports hubs like Canada, Austria, Denmark and Sweden said it was too early to doubt their athletes’ participation in Pyeongchang, where the Games open on Feb. 9.

“The safety of our entire Canadian Olympic Team is always our main priority, no matter where the Games are held,” the Canadian Olympic Committee said in a statement. “We work with the Government of Canada, the host country, the RCMP and other security agencies to ensure the safest and most secure environment possible for Canadians. The COC and the RCMP have representatives in South Korea and have routinely done site visits to the country.”

The Government of Canada doesn’t have any current travel advisories in place for South Korea, and recommends Canadians exercise normal security precautions, which is the lowest of four risk levels.

Peter Reinebo of Sweden’s Olympic Committee said the Swedes “feel safe.” He added that a decision to stay away would require “an international decision from the United Nations and a strong warning from Swedish authorities.”

“But such things do not exist today. We are completely focused on going and taking part,” Reinebo said.

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CBC | Sports News