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French Olympic Committee chief 'cannot imagine' 2018 boycott
September 23, 2017 / 9:51 AM / 24 days ago

French Olympic Committee chief 'cannot imagine' 2018 boycott

FILE PHOTO: Denis Masseglia, head of the French National Olympic Committee, attends the presentation of the feasibility study for a potential bid for the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Paris, at the Paris city hall, February 12, 2015. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes/Files

(Reuters) - French Olympic Committee President Denis Masseglia “cannot imagine” a situation that will lead to the country boycotting next year’s Winter Olympics in South Korea amid growing concerns over tensions in North Korea.

France Sports Minister Laura Flessel said on Thursday that if the crisis deepened and “our security cannot be assured, the French Olympics team will stay at home”, before adding “we’re not there yet”.

“If the Games take place, I cannot imagine that France would not be there,” Masseglia told Reuters by telephone on Saturday.

“If the Games take place it means that the IOC (International Olympic Committee) believes security conditions are met.”

North Korea leader Kim Jong Un said on Friday the North would consider the “highest level of hard-line countermeasures in history” against the United States in response to President Donald Trump’s threat to destroy the North.

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.

Masseglia, however, has no doubt that the IOC will provide a safe Games.

“It’s the biggest sport organisation in the world, monitoring the biggest sport event in the world,” he added, before turning his attention to the 2024 Summer Olympics being hosted by France.

“If the IOC says that the Games are being held, we don’t have to doubt them. And let’s remember we are in a position where we have to deliver the 2024 Games.”

Masseglia added that in a worst case scenario, an “Olympic truce” would certainly prevail.

“Anyway, if there is a conflict, obviously we won’t be thinking about the Games,” he said.

South Korea President Moon Jae-in said on Wednesday the country was pushing to ensure security at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

In a meeting with International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach, Moon said South Korea was well aware of the concerns.

Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by John O'Brien

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