Saturday 25 May, 2019

IOC calms concern about 2018 Olympics amid NKorea tension

French President Emmanuel Macron, right, International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach, center, and French Minister for Sports Laura Flessel arrive for a meeting at the city hall as part of a visit to the site of the future Olympic Sailing venue (Voile Olympique) at the "Marina Olympique" nautical base in Marseille, southern France, after the decision for Paris to host of the 2024 Summer Olympics Games, Thursday, Sept. 21, 2017.

French President Emmanuel Macron, right, International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach, center, and French Minister for Sports Laura Flessel arrive for a meeting at the city hall as part of a visit to the site of the future Olympic Sailing venue (Voile Olympique) at the "Marina Olympique" nautical base in Marseille, southern France, after the decision for Paris to host of the 2024 Summer Olympics Games, Thursday, Sept. 21, 2017.

Responding to France's sports minister raising security risks at the 2018 Olympics in South Korea, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has tried to calm concern about the Pyeongchang Games in February.

The IOC said on Friday it has been in close contact with the United Nations and "the heads of government concerned."

In Tianjin last month, IOC President Thomas Bach met with China President Xi Jinping, and at the UN in New York this week with South Korea President Moon Jae-in.

"In none of the discussions, has anybody expressed any doubt about the Olympic Winter Games 2018," 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 UN General Assembly speech to threaten its destruction. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un hit back describing Trump as "deranged."

France's sports minister, Laura Flessel, suggested on Thursday the national team could stay at 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.

Olympic officials in winter sports hubs like Austria, Denmark and Sweden said on Friday it was too early to doubt their athletes' participation in Pyeongchang, where the games open on 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.

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