PARIS (Reuters) – Members of France’s Winter Olympics team are optimistic the country will not boycott next year’s games in Pyeongchang over concerns about tensions with North Korea.
France’s Sports Minister Laura Flessel said last month that if the crisis in the region deepened and athletes’ security could not be guaranteed then they would not travel to the Games in South Korea.
“As an athlete, and the flag bearer for the French delegation, I’m preparing calmly for these Games with the will to go to Korea,” French biathlete Martin Fourcade said as the team were presented to the media on Wednesday.
“I fully trust the institutions and at no moment have I thought these games won’t take place,” Fourcade added.
French Olympic Committee President Denis Masseglia said that if organizers said the Games could go ahead, then the French team would attend.
French snowboarder Pierre Vaultier said that he would trust the International Olympic Committee’s call, though he was worried about the tensions.
“I’ve been waiting for this for four years, I’m not going to let it go like that. I’m going to fight to go even if it’s a bit dangerous,” Vaultier said.
The Games, scheduled for Feb. 9-25 next year in Pyeongchang, will take place just 80 km (50 miles) from the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea, the world’s most-heavily armed border.
The two countries remain technically at war after their 1950-53 conflict ended with a truce and not a peace treaty.
(Reporting by Miranda Alexander-Webber; Writing by Leigh Thomas; Editing by Toby Davis)