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White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders quickly backtracked after saying on Thursday that an official decision hasn’t been made regarding United States Olympians attending and competing at the 2018 Pyeongchang Games in South Korea amidst mounting tensions between the U.S. and North Korea.
Sanders originally said a decision hadn’t been made yet, per the CBS Evening News:
CBS Evening News @CBSEveningNews
NEW: On U.S. teams attending the Winter Olympics in South Korea, @PressSec tells @MajorCBS that “no official decision has been made on that, and we’ll keep you posted as the decisions are made.” https://t.co/lN54mTFc8J
She quickly provided an update explaining that the US would indeed be participating, however:
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, said Wednesday on Fox News that it remained an “open question” as to whether U.S. athletes would make the trip to Pyeongchang (h/t Sophie Tatum of CNN.com).
However, U.S. Olympic Committee spokesman Mark Jones contradicted Haley on Thursday.
“We have not had any discussions, either internally or with our government partners, about the possibility of not taking teams to the 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games,” he said, per Nancy Armour of USA Today.
“We plan on supporting two full delegations in Pyeongchang.”
Haley did stress Wednesday, however, that the U.S. would take all necessary steps to protect its Olympians in Pyeongchang should they attend.
“I think those are conversations we are going to have to have, but what have we always said? We don’t ever fear anything, we live our lives,” she noted. “And certainly that is a perfect opportunity for all of them 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.”
Just months from the Pyeongchang Games, the event has taken on an increasingly political bent after the International Olympic Committee banned Russia from this winter’s Olympics for systematic doping.
And Thursday, an unnamed North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman said a war with the United States and a nuclear war on the Korean Peninsula was inevitable. For the moment, however, such tensions won’t prevent U.S. Olympians from participating in the Winter Games.