US will go to Pyeongchang Winter Olympics confident in security

Monday, September 25, 2017

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PARK CITY, United States (AFP) — American athletes will compete at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics next February in South Korea and are confident in safety and security preparations, US Olympic Committee (USOC) chief executive Scott Blackmun said Monday.

Speaking in an Olympic preview event at the site of some 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic events, the US Olympic boss said the tense talk between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un would not prevent Americans from competing next February.

"The USOC will go," Blackmun said.

"These Games are really no different than any other Games. We're working with law enforcement. We're in constant communications with the State Department.

"Should the unthinkable happen, and there are conflicts between nations, that's not an issue for the USOC. That's an issue for the IOC (International Olympic Committee) and the governments." Blackmun said he expects questions from individual athletes about security and safety issues but so far has received "not a single one."

The Pyeongchang Winter Olympics run from February 9-25 in South Korea but will be staged only 80km (50 miles) from a heavily guarded border with North Korea.

French and Austrian officials last week raised the issue of not sending delegations to Pyeongchang over safety issues as US and North Korean leaders exchanged insults.

"You have to look at where you're going and the kind of risks you'll see," Blackmun said. "Candidly, the reports we're getting from Pyeongchang are very positive for crime and such. We're very confident of things progressing very nicely."

Conversations with the US State Department have reinforced Blackmun's confidence in security in South Korea.

"We talk to the State Department on a regular basis. We're getting the same briefings as other Americans in South Korea. If something changes I'm sure we'll be among the first to hear about it but they don't anticipate any changes."

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