U.S. ambassador: Sending athletes to South Korea Olympics an ‘open question’
The U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, said there should be discussions over the safety of sending American athletes to the Korean Peninsula for the Winter Olympics amid North Korea tensions.
Speaking with Fox News on Wednesday, the ambassador said there’s an “open question” on sending athletes to the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in February.
“Those are conversations we are going to have to have, but what have we always said? We don’t ever fear anything,” Haley said. “We live our lives, we use our freedom, we have that.
“Certainly that’s the perfect opportunity for all [athletes] to go and do something they’ve worked so hard for. What we will do is make sure we are taking every precaution possible to make sure they’re safe and to know everything that’s going on around them.” the ambassador said.
Haley’s comments came the same day the North said that nuclear war on the Korean Peninsula has become a matter of when, not if, as it continued to lash out at a massive joint military exercise between the United States and South Korea involving hundreds of advanced warplanes.
When asked by Fox News whether American athletes will compete, the ambassador said “That’s an open question. I have not heard anything about that, but I do know in the talks that we have, whether it’s Jerusalem, whether it’s North Korea, it’s always about how do we protect the U.S. citizens in the area. Those are conversations that are happening daily.”
The North launched an intercontinental ballistic missile late last month, a missile Kim Jong Un and his regime says can reach any target in the continental United States.
The U.S. flew a B-1B supersonic bomber over South Korea as part of a massive combined aerial exercise involving hundreds of warplanes on Wednesday. The exercise fell during five days of drills on the peninsula.
The Winter Games are scheduled to get underway on Feb. 9 in Pyeongchang, which is about 80 kilometres from the Korean Demilitarized Zone.
The U.S. Olympic Committee said Thursday the committee had not had any discussions, either internally or with government officials, about the possibility of not taking teams to next year’s Olympics.
A spokesperson for the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) said safety for its athletes is the top priority at the Games.
“The safety of our entire Canadian Olympic Team is always our main priority, no matter where the Games are held. We work with the Government of Canada, the host country, the RCMP and other security agencies to ensure the safest and most secure environment possible for Canadians,” Photi Sotiropoulos said in an email to Global News. “The COC and the RCMP have representatives in South Korea and have routinely done site visits to the country.”
The Canadian government does not currently have any travel advisories for South Korea other than to “take normal security precautions.”
The government does note that tensions on the Korean Peninsula “could escalate with little notice and the security situation could deteriorate suddenly” and to remain vigilant and to monitor developments.
–with a file from the Associated Press.
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