SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) - Sochi Olympic organisers had to fend off questions regarding stray dogs in the run-up to the event but 2018 Games host Pyeongchang does not expect protests over the practice of eating dog meat, Games chief Kin Jin-sun said on Sunday.
Once more widespread in the country but now far less common, dog meat could be an embarrassing issue for the South Korean Games organisers, raised by foreign media both at the 1988 Seoul Olympics and the 2002 soccer World Cup.
“There would have been some people eating dog meat back in past days, maybe during the 1988 at the Seoul Olympics but now even around me I do not see anyone eating dog meat,” Kim Jin-sun told news agency reporters.
“It cannot be raised at Games time because there is no practice of eating dogs in Korea,” he said when asked how he would handle the issue.
While it is not a common sight in the country, dog meat is still served in a few restaurants and can be bought at specific markets with several pressure groups urging Koreans to end the practice.
“Actually Koreans have this love of animals so this cannot be an issue,” said Kim.
Sochi residents say thousands of dogs have disappeared from the streets in the last few weeks. Although some can still be seen wandering around, human rights groups have alleged that dogs have been culled.
Residents say many of the dogs on the loose had been kept as pets or guard dogs by foreign workers who helped build the Games venues but have now returned home.
Editing by Ed Osmond