September 26, 2017 / 9:02 AM / in 25 days

Olympics - JOC 'looking forward to Pyeongchang'

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan’s Olympic committee (JOC) said on Tuesday it is looking forward to participating in next year’s Pyeongchang Winter Games and that it is confident the event will be safe despite concerns over North Korea.

FILE PHOTO - Medals for the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games are seen during its unveiling ceremony in Seoul, South Korea, September 21, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

With tensions on the Korean peninsula growing in the wake of a series of missile tests and a recent nuclear test by North Korea, the French government last week became the first to publicly raise the possibility of skipping the Feb. 9-25 Pyeongchang Olympics on safety grounds.

Tsunekazu Takeda, president of the JOC, said in a statement on Tuesday that Japanese athletes and officials were gearing up to take part in the Games.

“The Japanese Olympic Committee is looking forward to participate in the Olympic Winter Games Pyeongchang 2018 and will be in Pyeongchang together with the athletes and the Japanese delegation whom have been training and preparing for the past four years,” said Takeda.

He added that he had been closely involved in the Pyeongchang Organizing Committee’s (POCOG) preparations for the Olympics and Paralympics.

“I know that POCOG will ensure to provide a safe Games for the entire Olympic Family.”

The IOC has said it was confident about the Games and not considering any other scenarios.

On Monday, the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) said not one of its athletes had expressed fears about the safety of the Games.

“We understand individual athletes may have questions and concerns but our job as the national Olympic committee for the United States is to make sure the athletes have an opportunity to go and are well supported by us while they are there,” said USOC CEO Scott Blackmun.

“These Games are really no different than any other Games in terms of our preparations, we are working closely with the State Department and law enforcement.”

Reporting by Elaine Lies; Editing by Peter Rutherford

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