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ARE THE WINTER OLYMPICS AT RISK? - Jane Peel, Chief Reporter
Tuesday September 12, 2017 - Email this article to a friend

What does the North Korean crisis mean for PyeongChang 2018? Nothing, says the boss of the Olympic movement, but there are big concerns.



The Winter Olympics are five months away and PyeongChang is just 50 miles south of the Demilitarised Zone that separates North and South Korea - two countries still technically at war.

The International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach insists there is "not even a hint that there is a threat" to the security of next February's Winter Games in South Korea.

His comments come as global tensions ramp up following North Korea's series of missile tests and the ferocious war of words between the country's leader Kim Jong-Un and US President Trump.

The United Nations Security Council this week passed a new resolution to increase sanctions against North Korea in response to its latest test.

It claims to have tested a hydrogen bomb - a device many times more powerful than an atomic weapon - capable of being fitted to a long-range missile.

<>North Korean TV announces hydrogen bomb testNorth Korean TV announces hydrogen bomb test












The US Geological Survey put the earth tremor caused by the explosion at 6.3 magnitude, making it North Korea's most powerful nuclear test to date.

North Korea has repeatedly threatened to aim a ballistic missile towards the US Pacific territory of Guam and has fired one over Japan.

Pyeongchang 2018Nuclear threat or nuclear posturing?














The man in charge of delivering the Games, PyeongChang 2018 President Lee Hee-beom has said there is no "Plan B" to move the event if the situation further deteriorates.

"We will have a perfect security and safety Olympic Games," Inside The Games reports him as saying.

Alpensia, South KoreaAlpensia will host some ski and snowboard events - photo PyeongChang 2018















But there are concerns.

Early ticket sales are said to be slow.  Will foreigners want to travel to the region while tensions remain high?

And it's possible that some National Olympic Committees may choose not travel to PyeongChang on safety grounds.

The International Ski Federation President Gian-Franco Kasper is among those to have expressed fears of a boycott.

Gian-Franco Kaspar, President FISGian-Franco Kaspar - photo FIS













"I am convinced that PyeongChang will be the safest place during the Games," he said.

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

IOC President Bach has said it's not a worry right now.

"There is a clear commitment and we hope and are appealing that diplomacy and peace will prevail on the Korean peninsular," he said.

"There is also, so far, not even a hint that there is a threat to the security of the Games in the context of the tensions between North Korea and some other countries."

Thomas Bach, President IOCThomas Bach - photo Greg Martin IOC













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

"There is no doubt being raised about the Olympic Winter Games in 2018," he said.

"We appeal for peace and a diplomatic solution."

Only this summer there was talk of North Korean involvement in the PyeongChang Olympics, though it has come to nothing:

Last month the IOC said it was closely monitoring rising tensions on the Korean peninsula but believed the Games were still on track.

Bach has discussed the issue with some heads of state, including Donald Trump.

PyeongChang 2018 says there have been security risks in South Korea since the Korean War ended with a ceasefire rather than a peace treaty 64 years ago.

The South Korean capital, Seoul, staged a successful Summer Olympic Games in 1988, less than a year after a Korean Air flight was blown up by a bomb planted in an overhead storage bin by North Korean agents.

A total of 160 countries still took part in the Seoul Games.

And other Olympics have gone ahead without incident after apparently being at risk.

They include the most recent Summer Olympics in Rio in 2016 which took place following an outbreak of the Zika virus.

Snowboard Big Air venue for PyeongChang 2018 Winter OlympicsSnowboard Big Air venue at Alpensia - photo PyeongChang 2018














The IOC's Co-ordination Commission has just carried out its ninth and final inspection of PyeongChang and declared itself very confident the city is prepared to welcome the world.

The Olympic Villages are nearing completion and the high-speed train linking Seoul to the remote Olympic region is being tested.

This drone footage from the Olympic Channel of the venues has appeared on YouTube:


"We saw first-hand the advances that have been made on venues and infrastructure, as well as heard updates on plans to further engage with Olympic fans," the Co-ordination Commission chair Gunilla Lindberg said after the visit.

"While details must continue to be refined in the coming months, it was evident that the Organising Committee is well on its way to delivering successful Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games."

Let's hope so.

They're approaching fast.

South Korea Winter Olympics & Paralympics 2018South Korea Winter Olympics & Paralympics 2018













The Olympic flame is due to arrive in Korea for the start of the Torch Relay on 1st November.

The Winter Olympics take place between 8th and 25th February.

The Winter Paralympics are on from 8th to 18th March.

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