IOC tries to calm Olympic concerns amid North Korea tension
LAUSANNE, Switzerland — With France’s sports minister raising questions about security, the IOC is trying to calm concern about the Pyeongchang Games.
The International Olympic Committee said Friday it has been in close contact with the United Nations and the “heads of government concerned.”
IOC President Thomas Bach met with China President Xi Jinping in Tianjin last month and with South Korea President Moon Jae-in at the U.N. in New York.
“In none of the discussions, has anybody expressed any doubt” about the Winter Games, the IOC said in a statement.
Tensions fueled by North Korea’s missile testing rose this week after U.S. President Donald Trump used his U.N. General Assembly speech to threaten the country’s destruction. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un described Trump as “deranged.”
France’s sports minister, Laura Flessel, suggested on Thursday its team could stay 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.
U.S. Olympic Committee CEO Scott Blackmun said “we will continue to work with our State Department and local organizers to ensure that our athletes, and our entire delegation, are safe.” He added that the USOC is confident South Korean organizers would deliver a “great games.”
Olympic officials in winter sports hubs like Austria, Denmark and Sweden said Friday it was too early to doubt participation in Pyeongchang, where the games open Feb. 9.
“We feel safe,” Peter Reinebo of Sweden’s Olympic Committee said, adding 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.