LAUSANNE, November 29, 2017 – “The Koreas are ready for the Olympics”. These are the resounding words of South Korea’s Hee Don Jung, AIPS Executive Committee member and First Vice-president of AIPS Asia, following the highest-ever intercontinental ballistic missile test from neighboring North Korea early Wednesday.
The successful test of the missile said to be ‘capable of hitting the whole of the mainland USA’ has brought already heightened tensions with the USA, and within the Korean peninsula, to a new tipping point, just 71 days before the Opening of the Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang.
Hee Don Jung, however, insists that security will be guaranteed during the 2018 Winter Games, and that journalists, athletes and the IOC, have nothing to worry about.
“Political tensions have reached their highest moment in the Korean peninsula, and while it is easy to understand why many are worried, nothing in South Korea, or PyeongChang has changed. North Korea has had numerous missile test in the last year, and unfortunately, the current situation is expected. It will however, in no way affect the Olympic Games.”
AIPS held its 80th Congress in Seoul and PyeongChang, with visits to the Olympic venues, in May, just days before and after North Korea fired off two missile tests.
“As many of our colleagues have seen during the AIPS Congress in May, everything in the capital and in PyeongChang, is under control and running smoothly. Nothing has changed since then. There is no safety issue for PyeongChang 2018. While we are not denying that a threat in the region exists, it is not a threat for the world, and most definitely not for the Olympic Games, where so much has been done to keep sport and politics separate,” Hee Don said.
On November 17th, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted the Olympic Truce for the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Games. “Building a peaceful and better world through sport and the Olympic Ideal,” supporting the Olympic Truce aimed to ensure “the safe passage and participation of athletes and spectators at February’s XXIII Olympic Winter Games, The PyeongChang 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, in the Republic of Korea.”
The consensus for the resolution included both the Republic of Korea and the Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea along with Japan, China, France and the United States of America – all future hosts of the Olympic Games in the next 11-year period.
At the IOC’s final PyeongChang 2018 Coordination Commission visit on August 29-31 of this year, Commission Chair Gunilla Lindberg confirmed that there were no security concerns ahead of the Games, detailing IOC President Thomas Bach’s July visit to meet with US President Donald Trump in the White House, where the US President showed his support for the Los Angeles bid for the Summer Games, but also for the 2018 Games in PyeongChang, and for stability in the region.
Not long after, North Korea fired a missile test in September, setting off condemnation in the region and beyond, with multiple warnings from President Trump, including one issued during his visit in South Korea where he cautioned North Korea, "do not try us."
“It is in no one’s interests, neither the US or North Korea’s to openly threaten the security of the region during the Olympic Games, as this would bring with it huge international consequences,” Hee Don Jung said, adding that he believes this will be the last North Korean missile test until after PyeongChang 2018.
For their part, he added, the Organizing Committee (POGOC) was working closely with the IOC and with their neighbors to ensure North Korea’s presence at the Games.
“For the moment, North Korea has a figure skating pair that has qualified for the Olympic Games, and we are cooperating with the IOC to find the possibility of wild cards for a number of North Korean short track speed skaters and alpine skiers, as a sign of Olympic Solidarty,” said Hee Don Jung, who was part of the POGOC delegation tasked with transporting the Olympic flame from Athens to PyeongChang in October.
“In that sense, in PyeongChang we can expect a delegation of 50-100 North Koreans, including athletes, entourage, possible referees and umpires, officials and some supporters,” he said. Hee Don Jung will be covering the PyeongChang 2018 Games for the host broadcaster SBS Television.