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Might Athlete Protests Reach Podiums at the Winter Olympics?

27 September, 2017, 00:54 | Author: Christina Hansen
  • France Minister of Sport Flessel gives a speech at the presentation of Paris 2024 at the 131st IOC session in Lima

With Pyeongchang perched just 80km south of the heavily fortified border with North Korea, rising tensions over the North's nuclear programme and the increasingly inflammatory rhetoric being exchanged by the United States and Pyongyang has painted a picture of a Korean peninsula on the brink of war.

Skeleton athlete Matt Antoine echoed those sentiments but added that this isn't the first time there have been questions about security before an Olympic Games.

"As of now, no country has officially said it will not participate".

South Korea's Foreign Ministry has claimed it is doing everything it can to guarantee the safety of the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

"Safety and security is one of the most important aspects of Games preparations", Sung Baik-you, a spokesman for the organising committee, said in a statement to Reuters on Friday.

"The French team will not travel to the 2018 Games in Pyeongchang if its "security can not be assured, we will not put our team in danger", Sputnik quoted Laura Flessel, the country's sports minister, as saying".

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IOC President Thomas Bach said last week that considering any scenario other than holding the Olympics in South Korea could hamper diplomatic efforts.

The IOC has said it is not contemplating any "Plan B" for the Games.

The United States Olympic Committee (USOC) said it was working with all the relevant authorities to ensure its athletes would be safe.

Earlier this month, the International Olympic Committee awarded Los Angeles the 2028 Games, which will mark the first time the Summer Olympics have been held in the US since 1996.

The Canadian Olympic Committee (COC), which has representatives in South Korea, said the safety of its team was always its main priority.

"There were some concerns from a few nations including France, Germany and Austria over security conditions on the Korean Peninsula", the minister said.

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The International Olympic Committee (IOC) have contacted all 205 National Olympic Committees asking them to "coordinate any media enquiries and responses" about the situation in North Korea with them.

Tsunekazu Takeda, president of the JOC, said in a statement on Tuesday that Japanese athletes and officials were gearing up to take part in the Games.

Although Flessel has since backtracked and said France will compete, her comments raised concerns that other nations could stay away.

"It would take an overall assessment of the IOC and the local organising committee, an worldwide decision by the United Nations or a strong general counsel from the Swedish authorities".

"So it is going to come down to a game time decision".

China bans supplies of petroleum products to N. Korea
But one measure will pinch harder than the rest ~ the United Nations resolution banning textile imports coming out of North Korea. North Korea could consider a hydrogen bomb test, Ri said , although he did not know Kim's exact thoughts, Yonhap reported.

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