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France Considers Skipping Pyeongchang 2018 Olympics over Security Concerns

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France Minister of Sport Laura Flessel gives a speech at the presentation of Paris 2024 at the 131st IOC session in Lima, Peru September 13, 2017. Photo: REUTERS/Mariana Bazo

French Sports Minister Laura Flessel has said the country’s team for the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games will not travel to South Korea if its security cannot be guaranteed.

Earlier this week, South Korean President Moon Jae-in sought to assure the world that Pyeongchang 2018 will not be threatened by regional tensions following a meeting with International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach.

Concerns have grown in recent weeks following a series of missile launches by North Korea, the latest of which flew over the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido last Friday (September 15).

Flessel told RTL Radio that if the crisis deepened and “our security cannot be assured, the French Olympics team will stay at home”.

She did make it clear, however, that no decision has been made at this point, saying “we’re not there yet”.

United States President Donald Trump said yesterday that the country will impose new sanctions on North Korea in response to the country’s developing nuclear program and increasingly aggressive missile demonstrations.

He has also threatened that the US would “totally destroy” North Korea if Pyongyang forced America or its allies to defend itself against a nuclear attack.

The United States Olympic Committee (USOC) was reported as telling Reuters it was working with all the relevant authorities to ensure its athletes would be safe at Pyeongchang 2018.

“Each host city presents a unique challenge from a security perspective, and as is always the case, we are working with the organizers, the US State Department and the relevant law enforcement agencies to ensure that our athletes, and our entire delegation, are safe,” USOC spokesman Patrick Sandusky said.

Last week, Bach insisted there is “not even a hint that there is a threat” to the security of Pyeongchang 2018.

Pyeongchang 2018 President Lee Hee-beom revealed there is no “Plan B” for the Games if the situation further deteriorates.

It coincided with the announcement on September 11 that the United Nations (UN) Security Council had resolved to increase sanctions against North Korea following the string of nuclear tests and threats in the region.

Bach added that the UN are currently finalizing an “Olympic Truce” resolution due for approval at a General Assembly in November.

Swiss IOC Executive Board member Gian-Franco Kasper is among those to have expressed fears of a Pyeongchang 2018 boycott.

“I am convinced that Pyeongchang will be the safest place during the Games,” the International Ski Federation President told online news site Rappler.

“What I fear is that some nations may boycott the Games, because they have concerns for their athletes.”

The Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics are scheduled to take place from February 9 to 25.

They will be followed by the Winter Paralympics from March 8 to 18.

By Daniel Etchells

Republished with permission from insidethegames.biz

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