Pyeongchang 2018: Great Britain have evacuation plan if North Korea tension rises

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We were more worried about going to Rio than Pyeongchang - BOA chief

Britain's Winter Olympic athletes will have an evacuation plan in case of a build-up in nuclear tension in North Korea, but staff supporting the team had "more safety concerns" at Rio 2016.

British Olympic Association (BOA) chief executive Bill Sweeney told BBC Sport that "not one single athlete" was worried about competing in the February 2018 Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

But he did say that special "welfare officers" would be travelling to accompany the team, to "make sure that they feel entirely content".

Tensions have been rising between the United States and North Korea over the Asian country's nuclear weapons programme and ballistic missile tests.

However, Sweeney said he had been "much more concerned" by the "unpredictable" security threat in Rio, which hosted the summer Olympics in 2016.

"The ad-hoc, opportunistic elements of crime were things that we were concerned with and we went to great lengths to make sure that our athletes were as protected as possible," he said.

He added that the BOA was "taking advice on a regular weekly basis from the foreign office and our embassy in both North and South Korea" on how to do the same for Pyeongchang.

"Normally we have some form of evacuation strategy, I think that's one that we would obviously have in Pyeongchang given the nature of the conversation that's happening," he said.

"A month ago we had a 'kitting out', all of the athletes who are likely to go to Pyeongchang came to that. We gave them a briefing on South Korea, what to expect and the culture there and so on. We talked about security, about plans we're putting in place.

"I think they trust us, I think they believe that we would not take them into a situation where we felt there was any severe risk to their health and wellbeing and not one single athlete was concerned about going to the games."

Asked whether the Games could help diffuse tensions over North Korea's missile testing programme, Sweeney said: "We certainly hope that will be the case.

"I think at this stage there are two North Koreans skaters who have qualified, whether they're coming or not has yet to be confirmed.

"We always talk about the fact the sport is a great vehicle for transcending international boundaries and transcending problems. It would be great if it could act as a means to increase dialogue."

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