US ambassador: It's an open question if US athletes will go to PyeongChang
Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the United Nations, has said that it is an “open question” whether US athletes will compete in February’s winter Olympic games in PyeongChang because of the security threat from nearby North Korea.
Asked in an interview on Fox News if US participation was a “done deal,” Haley (pictured) 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?”
Haley said sending the US team to compete in PyeongChang, which lies only 80 kilometres from the border with North Korea, would “depend on what’s going on at the time in the country – we have to watch this closely and it’s changing by the day.”
Asked if it is safe for the team to compete there, she said: “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, we use our freedom, we have that.
“And certainly [PyeongChang] is a perfect opportunity for all of them to go and do something they have worked so hard for. What we will do is, we will make sure that we’re taking every precaution possible to make sure that they’re safe and to know everything that’s going on around them.”
Last month South Korea’s ‘unification minister’ raised the spectre of the games being disrupted or even cancelled as a result of provocations, such as the latest in a series test missile launches by North Korea, ahead of the event.
Cho Myoung-Gyon told a forum in Seoul: “If the North provokes again at a time when the Olympic Games are imminent, it may deal a fatal blow to the Olympics.
“Therefore, it is important to stage the PyeongChang winter Olympics in a stable atmosphere.”
Moon Jae-in, the South Korean president, told organisers to monitor closely the impact of the security threat.
The launch, the first by North Korea since September, appeared to bring an end to hopes that the hiatus might lead to fresh diplomacy over North Korea’s nuclear programme.