SKorea Olympic bidders: Can deliver safe games
The backers of Pyeongchang's bid for the 2018 Winter Olympics are confident South Korea can keep the games safe despite a deadly military skirmish near the disputed western border.
The bid committee on Wednesday extended its ''heartfelt sympathies'' to all those effect by the North Korean bombardment that killed at least two marines and two civilians on the island of Yeongpyong on Tuesday. The countries exchanged artillery fire, sparking international calls for calm.
In a statement e-mailed to The Associated Press, the Pyeongchang bid committee said tensions had existed on the Korean peninsula for 60 years, yet never threatened high-profile international events including the 1998 Summer Olympics and the 2002 football World Cup.
''Throughout this time our country has hosted many successful and safe (sports) events ... as well as many high-profile international meetings and conferences such as the recent G20 Seoul Summit,'' the statement said.
''PyeongChang2018 and the South Korean Government will ensure that the 2018 Winter Games are safe and secure if we have the honor of being selected as host city in Durban next year.''
The International Olympic Committee will meet in Durban, South Africa, in July to select the winning city from a shortlist that includes Pyeongchang, Munich and Annecy, France.
Representatives of the three cities presented their bids to Asian members last week during the Asian Games in Guangzhou, southern China. The candidate cities will pitch to European members at Belgrade this week.
Athletes from North and South Korea have refused to talk about the simmering political tension on their divided peninsula during the Asian Games, and have continued to compete against each other. There have been no signs of animosity at the games, and both teams plan to remain in the athletes' village until the closing ceremonies on Saturday.
''We believe that a Winter Games in PyeongChang will help promote the positive messages of peace and understanding, which are at the heart of the Olympic movement, all across our region,'' the Pyeongchang bid statement said.
On Wednesday morning, wrestlers from North and South Korea faced off on the Asian Games. North Korea's Yang Chun Song beat South Korea's Kim Dai-sung 3-0 in the men's freestyle 66-kilogram division, as athletes and coaches tried to keep the focus on sports.
As they left the mat, the men exchanged a brief hug, then shook hands cordially with each other's coaches.
Both sides quickly walked out of the arena.
''I don't want to get into politics,'' Kim Chang-kew, president of the Asian Associated Wrestling Committee, said. ''We are (here) for sport and for these Asian Games. Sport should not be connected with war or peace.''
Kim said he didn't think the athletes were under any special pressure at the Asian Games, which bring together more than 10,000 athletes from 45 countries.