2018 Winter Olympics: will US athletes travel to South Korea?

America’s UN ambassador says participation is an ‘open question’ because of tensions with North Korea

Russia 2018 Winter Olympic Games
PyeongChang will host the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in February 
(Image credit: Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)

The US ambassador to the United Nations says it’s still not confirmed that American athletes will participate in the 2018 Winter Olympic Games because of tensions on the Korean peninsula.

Next year’s games take place from 9-25 February in the South Korean town of PyeongChang, 50 miles from the border with North Korea.

The US and North Korea have been involved in an ongoing stand-off. Last week images were released of what the North claims was a Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile being tested.

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Speaking to Fox News, Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, said that the safety of American citizens meant that the decision to send a team would “depend on what’s going on at the time” in North Korea.

“We have to watch this closely and it’s changing by the day,” she said. “There’s an open question. I have not heard anything about that, but I do know in the talks that we have – whether it’s Jerusalem or North Korea – it’s about how do we protect the US citizens in the area?”

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When asked if talks had taken place between the US government and its Olympic body regarding sending a team to South Korea, Haley added: “I think those are conversations we are going to have to have, but what have we always said? We don’t ever fear anything, we live our lives.

She said that the US government was taking “every precaution possible” to make sure that American citizens were safe and to ensure that officials knew “everything that’s going on around them.”

Meanwhile, the BBC reports that any decision over Russian athletes competing under the Olympic flag will be made next week.

On Tuesday the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced that Russia would be banned from the Winter Games over its state-sponsored doping programme at Sochi 2014. “Clean” athletes could still potentially compete in PyeongChang.

The IOC says that the Russian sports federations and athletes will meet on 12 December. A decision will be made then.

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