SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in said on Wednesday the country is pushing to ensure security at next year’s Pyeongchang Winter Olympics amid rising tensions over North Korea’s nuclear weapons programs.
In a meeting with International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach, Moon said South Korea has always hosted global sports events successfully despite being technically at war with the North, according to a South Korean presidential official.
“We are well aware of the concerns the IOC and the whole world have regarding the Korean peninsula,” Moon was quoted as saying to Bach at the New York meeting by the official.
“A successful hosting of the Pyeongchang games would erase worries over security and show the world regional peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula.”
Pyeongchang, the first Asian host of the Winter Olympics outside Japan, will stage the event on Feb 9-25.
Bach, meanwhile, said North Korean athletes were so far competing in preliminary events, and would be able to compete in the Winter Games if they reached qualifying standards, the official said.
Regional tensions have risen since the reclusive North conducted its sixth, and by far its most powerful, nuclear test on Sept. 3, along with a series of missile launches, including two that flew over Japan.
Further sanctions have been imposed on North Korea by the United Nations Security Council after the nuclear test, which in turn, has angered the North and prompted threats on the United States and Japan.
However, athletes bound for the Games so far have expressed little concern over safety, according to international federation chiefs.
Last week, the IOC said the escalating North Korean crisis had so far raised “no hint” of a security threat for the Pyeongchang Games.
As has become the tradition at the Olympics, South Korea has submitted a draft resolution for an Olympic Truce to start just before the Games, the official said. The resolution will be put to a vote at the United Nations General Assembly on Nov. 13.
Seoul was the venue for the 1988 Summer Olympics and South Korea co-hosted the 2002 soccer World Cup with Japan.
Reporting by Christine Kim; Editing by Richard Pullin