IOC gives ‘full support’ to 2018 Games despite N. Korean tensions


LAUSANNE: The International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Saturday gave its “full support” to the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang despite tensions over North Korea’s nuclear tests which have raised concerns over the showpiece event.

The Olympics, which run from February 9-25 in South Korea, will be staged only 80 kilometres (50 miles) from the heavily guarded border that separates the two nations.

But at the sixth Olympic Summit in Lausanne, leading officials including IOC president Thomas Bach insisted that there is no question of the Games not taking place.

“With regard to the situation on the Korean Peninsula, the Summit expressed its appreciation that the IOC has been in close contact for many months already with the governments and National Olympic Committees (NOCs) concerned,” said a statement.

“The Summit took note that none of them has called the Olympic Games Pyeongchang 2018 into question.

“The safety and security of the athletes are of course the top priority for everyone in the Olympic Movement, and this was highlighted again by the Olympic Summit.

“The IOC will continue to monitor the situation in cooperation with governments, NOCs and International Federations (IFs).”

In recent weeks, several countries, including France, Germany and Austria, have raised concerns over the safety of their athletes during the Games while the United States Olympic Committee said Friday that it was prepared “to face any scenario”.

Meanwhile, officials heard that a doping task force, set up by winter sports federations, will focus in particular on Russian athletes.

Russia has been accused of backing state-sponsored doping, especially at the 2014 Winter Olympics on home ground in Sochi, and is the subject of two IOC disciplinary commissions.

“The Summit supported the intention of the IOC Executive Board (EB) to take a decision with regard to the participation of Russian athletes in the Olympic Winter Games Pyeongchang 2018 in December,” added the statement.