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  1. ITV Report

Plan to evacuate UK athletes from 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea 'ready' in case of war

Bill Sweeney is the British Olympic Association chief executive.

Plans are in place to protect British athletes competing at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Games amid heightened tensions on the Korean peninsula.

The British Olympic Association (BOA) says it is in weekly contact with the Foreign Office and US intelligence services over the escalating Korean crisis.

And an evacuation strategy has even been organised, should tensions spill over into military conflict, BOA chief executive Bill Sweeney told ITV News.

With the Games set to commence next February, the BOA boss says it has put "all the necessary" measures in place in order to "deal with whatever comes up".

His comments come at a time of increased tension over North Korea's nuclear weapons programme between Pyongyang and the US - with both threatening to "destroy" the other.

North Korea is believed to have thousands of missiles capable of hitting South Korea's capital Seoul if war did break out.

Next year's Winter Games will take place in PyeongChang. Credit: AP

Next year's competition, which takes place between February 9 and 25, will be the second Olympic Games to be held in South Korea.

But political issues on the peninsula have overshadowed the build-up.

US president Donald Trump and North Korean leader have both spoken openly about unleashing war on the other - and South Korea's proximity to Pyongyang makes the country particularly vulnerable.

Sweeney told ITV News that it was normal procedure to have safety plans in place ahead of any Games.

"We speak to the Foreign Office and embassies in both South and North Korea on a weekly basis," he said.

"We get all of their latest information in terms of the situation there."

He continued: "We gather as much information as we can. We put plans in place - as we do for any Games - to handle any possible scenario and take it from there."

Fighting was taking place 100 miles from the Sochi 2014 Games. Credit: AP

Sweeney confirmed that an evacuation plan was also in place, as it had been in Sochi in 2014.

He explained that fighting had been taking place just 100 miles from Sochi when it held the last Winter Olympics.

"We tend to have an evacuation plan for any given Games. Yes we do have one for South Korea - you'd expect us to have that," Sweeney said.

But the BOA chief said he didn't lose sleep over the Korean security situation as he with Rio 2016, where, despite the Brazilian capital being "beautiful", also "had its dark places".

"In South Korea it's a different challenge. It's a totally different thing to deal with," Sweeney said.

"South Korea as a place, outside of the political issues there, is an incredibly safe environment to be in."

He added: "We'll have all the things necessary in place to make sure we can deal with whatever comes up."