LIMA, Sept 12, 2017 (BSS/AFP) – International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach downplayed security fears surrounding the 2018 Winter Olympics on Monday following the recent escalation of tensions on the Korean peninsula.
Bach told reporters in Lima he was confident there would be no threat to the Games, which take place in Pyeongchang, South Korea, from February 9-25.
Pyeongchang is 80 kilometers (50 miles) from the border with North Korea, which has stoked anxiety with a recent nuclear test and a string of missile launches.
“There is not even a hint that there is a threat for the security of the games in the context of the tensions between North Korea and some other countries,” Bach told a press conference.
Bach said the IOC had been in contact with the governments on the peninsula and said there was “no doubt being raised about the Olympic winter games in 2018.”
He said that the wording of an Olympic truce to be put before the United Nations in November — a common tradition ahead of each Olympics — was currently being discussed.
“We hope that these discussions to which we contribute will be successful so that a resolution can be approved,” Bach said.
The IOC was also offering support to ensure the participation of athletes from North Korea, Bach added.
“We are also keeping the door open for athletes of the DPRK,” he said. “This is our political neutrality.”
Bach said meanwhile that he was unaware of any nervousness on the part of other nations about sending there athletes to South Korea.
Last week, Swiss IOC official Gian-Franco Kasper said he feared some teams might not participate in South Korea out of security fears.
“I don’t see this right now because there is a clear committment,” Bach said. “We hope we’re appealing that diplomacy and peace will prevail on the Korean peninsula.”
Bach’s comments followed a presentation to the IOC Executive Board earlier Monday by Pyeongchang chiefs.
Lee Hee-Beom, the president of the 2018 Winter Games organising committee, later said he was confident of delivering “perfect security” for the Games, admitting no contingency plans had been drawn up.
“There’s no plan B, as the Olympics are based on an Olympic truce,” Lee told reporters.
“We will have a perfect security and safety Olympic Games.”
Lee, like Bach, also anticipated that North Korean athletes will venture across the border to participate.
“So far we believe North Korean athletes will be there in Pyeongchang,” he said.