France suggests skipping South Korea Winter Olympics

  • 23/09/2017
Kim Jong-un.
Kim Jong-un. Photo credit: File

Olympics organisers have sought to ease French concerns about next year's winter Games in South Korea, saying the safety of athletes was their priority and nations in the region had no doubts that the event would go ahead.

With tensions on the Korean peninsula rising, France on Thursday became the first nation to publicly raise the possibility of skipping the February 9-25 Pyeongchang Olympics on security grounds.

North Korea, which conducted a sixth nuclear test on September 3 to global condemnation, said on Friday it might test a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific Ocean after US President Donald Trump threatened to destroy the reclusive country.

"We are monitoring the situation on the Korean peninsula and the region very closely," an International Olympic Committee spokesman said.

"Athletes' safety and security are of course a primary concern for the IOC. This is why even in the past few days at the United Nations we continue to be in touch with the heads of state concerned.

"In none of the discussions, has anybody expressed any doubt about the Olympic Games 2018."

Italy's Olympic committee said on Friday that it and other national committees had received reassurances from IOC President Thomas Bach last week at a meeting in Lima.

"We look forward to safe and secure Olympic Winter Games," Italy committee president Giovanni Malago said in a statement.

The Games will be held just 80km from the demilitarised zone between North and South Korea, the world's most heavily armed border.

France's Sports Minister Laura Flessel had said on Thursday if the crisis deepened and athletes' security could not be assured, "the French Olympics team will stay at home".

"We're not there yet," she added, just a week after the IOC awarded the 2024 summer Olympics to Paris.

The US Olympic committee said they are working with authorities to ensure the safety of their delegation, while Russia said security was each host country's responsibility and China's foreign ministry was unaware of any plans for the Olympic team to not attend.