US participation at PyeongChang 2018 remains ‘open question’

US ambassador to the United Nations (UN), Nikki Haley, says sending American athletes to the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games remains uncertain amid security fears on the Korean Peninsula.

“There's an open question,” Haley said Wednesday, responding to a Fox News question whether it’s a “done deal” that Team USA will take part in the upcoming Winter Games.

“I have not heard anything about that, but I do know in the talks that we have – whether it's Jerusalem or North Korea – it's about, how do we protect the US citizens in the area?” she said.

Her comments follows escalating tensions between the US and North Korea over Pyongyang’s nuclear program and recent ballistic missile tests. Haley also outlined that US officials’ ultimate goal is to “take every precaution” to make sure their athletes are safe and protected.

“We have to watch this [situation] closely, and it’s changing by the day. I think those are conversations we are going to have, but we have always said: We don’t ever fear anything, we live our lives,” Haley noted.

“And certainly that is a perfect opportunity for all of them [athletes] to go and do something they have worked so hard for. What we will do is, we will make sure that we’re taking every precaution possible to make sure that they’re safe, and to know everything that’s going on around them,” she concluded.

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Earlier this week, the US and South Korea launched another joint military exercise, fuelling the long-running conflict with North Korea which said Wednesday that nuclear war was inevitable.

“The large-scale nuclear war exercises conducted by the US in succession are creating touch-and-go situation on the Korean peninsula and series of violent war remarks coming from the US high-level politicians amid such circumstances have made an outbreak of war on the Korean peninsula an established fact. The remaining question now is: when will the war break out,” an unnamed North Korean foreign ministry spokesman said.

Last month, the Olympic Truce for the 2018 Winter Games, which urges countries to cease conflicts during the period of an Olympic tournament, was adopted by the UN General Assembly.

The 2018 Winter Games are scheduled to take place in February in PyeongChang which is located just 50 miles from the North Korean border. On Tuesday, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) took a decision to ban Russia from participating at the 2018 Winter Games over alleged systematic doping violations. Russian athletes able to prove their ‘clean’ career history, and who wish to compete in PyeongChang, will be allowed to compete under a neutral flag.

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