The Winter Olympics begin in six months in PyeongChang, South Korea – right in the middle of a developing security situation.
U.S. President Donald Trump threatened North Korea Tuesday with “fire and fury like the world has never seen” and the North Koreans replied by threatening strikes against the island of Guam. Trump was responding to reports that North Korea can now wed nuclear warheads with its missiles.
And just 88 kilometres away from the North Korean border, officials are preparing venues to welcome thousands of athletes for the 2018 Winter Olympics, which start Feb. 9.
“We are monitoring the situation on the Korean peninsula and the region very closely,” said the International Olympic Committee in a statement. “The IOC is keeping itself informed about the developments. We continue working with the Organising Committee on the preparations of these Games which continue to be on track.”
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Canadian Olympic Committee CEO Chris Overholt said that the safety of the Canadian Olympic team is always their first priority, no matter where the Games are held.
“We work closely with the Government of Canada, the host nation, the RCMP and other security agencies to ensure the safest and most secure environment possible for our athletes,” he said in a statement.
Right now, Canada considers South Korea safe.
“The Government of Canada has issued no travel restriction to South Korea and we have routinely done site visits to the country over the last several years.”
Historically, it takes a lot to affect Olympic plans. The Games were last cancelled in 1944, because of the Second World War. And although people all around the world were concerned about the Zika virus and polluted water in Rio, the 2016 Summer Olympics went ahead as planned.
South Korea held a summer Olympics in Seoul in 1988, but those Games were boycotted by the North. According to news reports, no North Korean athletes have qualified so far to attend in PyeongChang.
Late in July, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said the North will be given until the last minute to decide whether to take part in the upcoming Olympics.
His proposal for a unified Korean team had been shot down by a top North Korean sports official as unrealistic due to the current political climate. The IOC has said that it was trying to find ways for North Korean athletes to take part.
With files from Reuters
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