Safety for all participants remains "a top priority" for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics, the event's organizers said Friday, on the heels of talks that France may skip the competition under security threats.
"Safety and security is one of the most important aspects of Games preparations," PyeongChang's organizing committee said in a statement. "It remains a top priority and we are continuing to communicate with all stakeholders, including the National Olympic Committees, on this matter. We are monitoring the current geopolitical situation closely with the South Korean government.
Meanwhile, our focus is on the preparation and delivery of a successful Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2018."Earlier in the day, French Sports Minister Laura Flessel told a local radio station that France will skip the 2018 Olympics if security can't be guaranteed amid rising tensions on the Korean Peninsula following North Korea's nuclear test and missile launches."If this gets worse and we do not have our security assured, then our French team will stay here," Flessel was quoted as saying by AFP. "We will not put our team in danger."Over the past month or so, North Korea carried out its sixth and most powerful nuclear test and fired missiles over Japan.PyeongChang, located some 180 kilometers east of Seoul, lies about 80 km south from the heavily fortified border with the North.Flessel's comments were made just days after International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach downplayed similar security concerns."There is not even a hint that there is a threat for the security of the Games in the context of the tensions between North Korea and some other countries," Bach said.Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump said at the UN General Assembly earlier in the week that the United States could "totally destroy" North Korea and called Pyongyang leader Kim Jong-un a man on a "suicide mission."Then on Friday, Kim responded with a bellicose statement of his own, saying, "Whatever Trump might have expected, he will face results beyond his expectation. I will surely and definitely tame the mentally deranged US dotard with fire."South Korean President Moon Jae-in has maintained he would welcome North Korean athletes to PyeongChang, since its participation will highlight the possibility of peace and reconciliation on the peninsula. The IOC has expressed its support for Moon's initiative, saying the Olympic Games are as much about peace as about competition.The two Koreas remain technically at war because the Korean War ended in 1953 with an armistice, not a peace treaty.
|Medals for Pyeongchang Olympic (Yonhap)|