In her current role as the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley recently suggested that American athletes might not participate in the Winter Olympics in South Korea. On Wednesday night, the former South Carolina governor told Fox News that the matter is an "open question," citing escalating tensions between the U.S. and North Korea.
"In the talks that we have — whether it's Jerusalem or North Korea — it's about, how do we protect the U.S. citizens in the area?" Haley said.
Haley added that while she didn't know whether or not American athletes would participate in the games — which are scheduled to take place from Feb. 9 to Feb. 25 in Pyeongchang — she said that the Trump administration would "find out the best way" to keep American athletes safe. However, Haley also insisted that a climate of fear should not prevent athletes from competing.
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. 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. So I think that's something where the administration is going to come together and find out the best way to make sure that they're protected.
Bustle has reached out to Haley's office for comment.
This is not the first time the 2018 Winter Olympics have been a topic of contention. Just last week, the International Olympic Committee banned Russia's Olympic team from the games as punishment for a state-backed doping program. As a result, Russian government officials are not permitted to attend the games, and spectators will neither see the Russian flag nor hear the Russian national anthem in Pyeongchang. Russian athletes who are determined to be clean will be able to participate wearing neutral uniforms.
Moreover, the U.S. is not the only country that has had concerns about security at the South Korean Winter Olympics. Last month, the United Nations General Assembly voted to adopt an Olympic Truce for the games, in order to create "the conditions for all athletes to compete in peace." South Korea and North Korea both agreed to the truce, as well as Japan, China, France, and the U.S. — all of which are slated to host future Olympic Games.
This truce stipulates that any existing conflicts must cease for the duration of the games, and requests that all UN member states "ensure the safe passage, access and participation of athletes, officials and all other accredited persons taking part in the Olympic Winter Games and Paralympic Winter Games."
The existence of this Olympic Truce made many Twitter users wonder why Haley would feel the need to call American participation in the South Korean games into question. However, Haley's position seems to be that American athletes should be allowed to compete as long as extensive safety measures are in place. She told Fox News that it's only an "open question" because the situation on the Korean peninsula is "changing by the day."
But despite Haley's claims that these are ongoing conversations, United States Olympic Committee spokesman Mark Jones told The New York Times that there have been no discussions about American attendance in Pyeongchang.
"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," Jones told the Times. "We plan on supporting two full delegations in Pyeongchang."
As the host country for the Winter Olympics, South Korea invited North Korea to the games, but it is unclear whether this will diffuse tensions following joint American-South Korean air force drills and North Korea's recent missile launch.