PARIS – France will not attend the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang if the current international stand-off over North Korea’s atomic weapons program worsens and security cannot be guaranteed, the country’s sports minister said Thursday.
“If this gets worse and we do not have our security assured, then our French team will stay here,” Laura Flessel told RTL radio. “We will not put our team in danger.”
Flessel is the first leading politician to publicly cast doubt over a country’s participation at the Olympics, which run from Feb. 9-25
Her comments come just days after IOC president Thomas Bach downplayed security fears following the recent escalation of tensions on the Korean peninsula.
“There is not even a hint that there is a threat for the security of the games in the context of the tensions between North Korea and some other countries,” said Bach.
Bach added that the IOC had been in contact with the governments on the peninsula and said there was “no doubt being raised about the Olympic Winter Games in 2018”.
The day before Bach spoke, an IOC spokesman insisted: “There is no plan B.”