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Olympics Organizers Ensure Safety Amid North Korea Tensions

Aside from the pageantry, security remains a main focus for organizers

In the small town of PyeongChang near South Korea’s eastern coast, preparations are underway and the ceremonial Olympic Flame is making its way throughout the country as the countdown continues to the 2018 Winter Olympic Games.

"We’ll have 7,500 torch bearers covering 2,018 kilometers throughout all of Korea, which will generate interest [for the Games] in all parts of Korea," said Jae-Youl Kim, the executive vice president of the PyeongChang Organizing Committee for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games.

Aside from the pageantry, security remains a main focus for organizers.

The Games will take place just 60 miles from the demilitarized zone and the North Korean border.

North Korea has ramped up its nuclear weapons program in recent months, prompting global condemnation and escalating tensions with the United States.

On Monday, President Trump designated North Korea a state sponsor of terror and promised new sanctions on Pyongyang.

Olympic organizers said it is taking "all measures necessary" to secure the event.

"[We] are working with domestic authorities as well as international bodies to ensure that we have a comprehensive security plan for game time. Our president, Moon Jae-In of Korea, is in close contact with leaders of the world for stability and peace in the region," said Kim.

Earlier this month, the United Nations General Assembly adopted an "Olympic Truce," urging for a safe passage and peace throughout the Olympic and Paralympic Games. The tradition of the truce has been to "ensure a halt of all hostilities" and reaffirms the "Olympic values of peace, solidarity and respect," according to a press release by the International Olympic Committee.

The resolution calls for the Olympic Truce to be respected from seven days before the start of the Olympic Games until seven days after the Paralympic Games.

For athletes vying for coveted spots on Team USA, the turmoil in the region is even more motivation to compete in the Olympics.

"The Olympics and sports is a world, universal language," said Jeffrey Swider-Peltz of Wheaton, who is competing to earn a bid on the U.S. Olympic Speed Skating Team. "People coming together for good things – it’s an amazing event and it’s up to us as athletes to go there and show everyone how you do it."

The Olympic Winter Games will take place from February 9-25, 2018, followed by the Paralympic Games from March 8-18, 2018.

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