19:00 GMT +309 December 2019
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    France May Withdraw From 2018 Winter Olympics Over North Korea Threat

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    France is considering skipping this year’s Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, over safety concerns.

    Laura Flessel, the country's sports prime minister, told RTL radio on Thursday that the French team will not travel to the 2018 Games in Pyeongchang if its "security cannot be assured".  

    "We will not put our team in danger," She said.

    There have long been speculations about some countries boycotting the Olympics, scheduled for February 9-25, due to Pyeongchang's proximity to the border with North Korea, which has recently been restlessly demonstrating its military might.

    Only this month, North Korea fired yet another ballistic missile and conducted its sixth nuclear weapons test in spite of new UN Security Council sanctions. In response, US President Donald Trump used his UN General Assembly speech to threaten the country's destruction.

    Tensions with the regime have been gradually worsening, and many fear it will not be safe for athletes to go to the Korean Peninsula.

    There have also been concerns that the precarious security situation may scare away foreign fans, with international ticket sales already demonstrating less excitement than expected.

    But Lee Hee-beom, president of Pyeongchang's organizing committee, told The Associated Press that people shouldn't be worried about North Korea because it is more than likely that the North will send its athletes to compete in the Games. South Korean President Moon has encouraged North Korea to participate.

    The International Olympic Committee also said Friday it has been in close contact with the UN and the "heads of government concerned."

    "In none of the discussions, has anybody expressed any doubt" about the Winter Games, the IOC said in a statement, adding that "Athletes' safety and security are of course a primary concern for the IOC."

    The chief of the International Ski Federation, Gian-Franco Kasper, dismissed any fears among athletes as well, saying the Pyeongchang Olympics would be the "safest in the world."    


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