PARIS — The French Winter Olympics team will not travel to the 2018 Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea if its security cannot be guaranteed, France’s sports minister said Thursday — the first major doubts by a participating nation over the growing North Korean tensions.
The Winter Games are slated for Feb. 9-25 in Pyeongchang, South Korea — 50 miles from the North Korean border.
The games organizing body said it is closely monitoring the geopolitical situation with the South Korean government, adding that safety is the top priority.
Tensions have escalated since North Korea conducted its sixth and largest nuclear test on Sept. 3, prompting global condemnation.
North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un said Friday the North will consider the “highest level of hard-line countermeasure in history” against the United States in response to U.S. President Donald Trump’s threat to destroy it.
France’s Sports Minister, Laura Flessel, told RTL radio that if the crisis deepened and “our security cannot be assured, the French Olympics team will stay at home.”
But she added: “We’re not there yet.”
South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in said the country is pushing to ensure security at the event. In a meeting with International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach Wednesday, Moon said South Korea is well aware of the concerns.
The IOC has said it is not contemplating any ‘Plan B’ for the Games.
Bach, the IOC President, said last week that considering any scenario other than holding the Olympics in South Korea could hamper diplomatic efforts.
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