2017-12-07 19:00
North Korea won't provoke during PyeongChang Olympics: IOC communicator
By Lee Hyo-sik

Robert Roxburgh, communications director at the International Olympic Committee (IOC) / Korea Times photo by Lee Hyo-sik
LAUSANNE, Switzerland _ Athletes competing in the PyeongChang Winter Olympics should not be concerned about security as North Korea will not do anything to destabilize the Games, according to a top communications manager at the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

In an interview with The Korea Times, IOC communications director Robert Roxburgh said Korea’s first Winter Olympics from Feb. 9 to 25 will be a huge success, adding ticket sales have been picking up as the Games near.

“All the countries participating are U.N. members, so I don’t think the North will do anything to hurt the PyeongChang Games,” Roxburgh said.

“We get all the information we need from the PyeongChang organizing committee and we trust what we get. The IOC also disseminates the information to our member states. In the past, there were always certain issues at each Games. We are optimistic that things will be no different in PyeongChang.”

The IOC is not sure whether the reclusive regime will send athletes to PyeongChang, the director said.

“I don’t know whether North Korea will participate or not,” he said. “But a figure-skating pair from the North was recently qualified for competing in PyeongChang. We will have to wait and see whether they will participate.”

There have been lingering concerns about geopolitical risks associated with North Korea among countries taking part in the PyeongChang Games.

They are afraid North Korea, which has carried out missile and nuclear tests, may take hostile action against the South during the Olympics, possibly putting international athletes in danger.

Christof Baer, assistant head coach of the Swiss Olympic team, said Swiss athletes are not overly concerned about their safety while competing in PyeongChang.

But Switzerland remains vigilant and has been taking all possible precautions to ensure the safety and security of its national team members.

“Switzerland will send a 400-member delegation to PyeongChang, including 120 athletes,” Baer said. “The Swiss Olympic Committee is in a close contact with the Swiss government and the IOC to get all the necessary information about what’s happening on the Korean Peninsula. The safety of our athletes is the top priority.”

He said he will not force Swiss athletes to compete at PyeongChang if they are concerned about the situation in Korea.

“Nobody has come forward and said he or she would not go to Korea,” Baer said. “Based on the information we have received, it is safe and secure. At the moment, we are not thinking about not participating in PyeongChang.”


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