LONDON — Escalating tensions over North Korea’s nuclear weapons program have caused security challenges posed to the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics to be assessed at an upcoming IOC meeting.
The International Olympic Committee session comes five months before the Winter Games are staged 80 kilometres (50 miles) across the border from North Korea.
Although regional concerns have been building for months amid new missile tests by the North, the pace has intensified since new sanctions were passed against Kim Jong Un’s regime by the U.N. Security Council last week. It led to heated rhetoric between the United States and North Korea, with threats of attacks.
"We are monitoring the situation on the Korean peninsula and the region very closely," the IOC said on Friday from Lausanne, Switzerland. "The IOC is keeping itself informed about the developments. We continue working with the organizing committee on the preparations of these games which continue to be on track."
France Olympic Committee president Denis Masseglia told The Associated Press the North Korea situation will be discussed at the IOC Session in Lima, Peru, in September.
"There is no reason to be too worried at the moment," Masseglia said. "We are five or six months away from the Olympics. We are monitoring the situation carefully. Of course if the tension escalates, we’ll need to adapt. But Pyeongchang is ready to host the games."
Pyeongchang is presenting the IOC with the third successive problematic build-up to an Olympics after Sochi in 2014 and Rio de Janeiro in 2016 were beset by human rights, environmental, and political crises.
"Each host city presents a unique challenge from a security perspective," United States Olympic Committee spokesman Patrick Sandusky said, "and as is always the case, we are working with the organizers, the U.S. State Department and the relevant law enforcement agencies to ensure that our athletes, and our entire delegation, are safe."
Germany’s Olympic body said it will follow government travel advice which currently does not warn against travel to South Korea.
"We are observing the situation in the interests of both our athletes and fans," the German Olympic Sports Confederation said. "Naturally we hope that it doesn’t worsen and that it calms down. In such cases, before we go to any such tournaments or competitions we always consult with the Federal Foreign Office for guidance."