The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has moved to allay fears over next year’s winter Olympic and Paralympic Games in Pyeongchang, by saying that the sporting spectacle is “on track” despite rising tensions on the Korean peninsula.
North Korea has attracted widespread criticism for its continued development and subsequent testing of nuclear missiles, despite being ordered by the United Nations to halt such activities.
This week, US President Donald Trump said the United States would respond with “fire and fury” if it were threatened by North Korea.
North Korea has since dismissed the warnings and said it will develop a plan to launch a missile strike near to the US Pacific territory of Guam, the island nation that is home to a major US air base.
However, despite the ongoing war of words between the US and North Korea, the IOC has today (Thursday) said that preparations for the Games in South Korea are progressing as planned, but it will continue to monitor the situation as it develops.
“We are monitoring the situation on the Korean peninsula and the region very closely,” an IOC spokesperson said, according to the Reuters news agency. “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.”
Last month, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said he would allow the North more time to decide whether it will take part in next year’s Games. No athletes from North Korea have met the required qualification standards for Pyeongchang 2018.
In June, North Korean IOC member Chang Ung poured cold water on the prospect of a partnership with South Korea for the staging of the 2018 Games, stating there wasn’t enough time to come to such an agreement.
Chang’s comments came after South Korea’s Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Do Jong-hwan, suggested that North Korea could host some events during the 2018 Games as part of efforts to improve relations with its neighbouring country.
Do said North Korean participation at Pyeongchang’s Games would help to promote inter-Korean peace through the Olympics, adding he was considering holding some of the events in North Korea’s Masikryong Ski Resort. He also suggested the possibility of an inter-Korean women’s ice hockey team for Pyeongchang 2018.