2018 Winter Olympics Security Will Use ‘Drone-Catching Drones’ in South Korea
AMOS GUMULIRA/Getty Images
Organisers of the 2018 Winter Olympics will reportedly use “drone-catching drones” to intercept any potential safety threats via air in Pyeongchang amid concerns the devices could be used to interrupt competition.
Ryan Young of Yahoo Sports reported the Winter Games’ safety division, the Pyeongchang Olympics anti-Terrorism and Safety Headquarters, will use drones to catch other drones if one is detected approaching an event via radar.
It’s said their drones will deploy a net to inhibit any airborne craft that encroach upon the events in Pyeongchang, although more rigorous measures—such as helicopters—are also available.
MailOnline’s Harry Pettit reported organisers of the Winter Olympics fear terrorists may look to use the remote-controlled machines to carry “bombs toward crowd members or athletes.”
The Games’ security detail is said to be 60,000 strong—including 50,000 South Korean soldiers—and a SWAT team recently conducted a successful practice drill involving a drone sending a bomb toward a bus with athletes aboard.
A drone was used during the torch-lighting in PyeongChang.JUNG YEON-JE/Getty Images
Pettit’s report also provided quotes from a spokesperson from the Olympic headquarters, who sought to assure the measures in place would assure this will be a safe two-week competition:
“We have response systems in place not only for terror and other manmade threats but also natural disasters like earthquakes and heavy snowfall. We are preparing to provide guests to the Pyeongchang Olympics with the safest competition in Winter Olympics history.”
In any case, it’s believed any wayward drones would have a challenge in causing a stir at the Games as Young reported the no-fly zone around the location means anything airborne would be detected “well before they would reach any Olympic venue.”
Security personnel have also been armed with “drone guns” that, when aimed at a potential threat, jam the drone’s signal and “flies it back to the ground.”
Drones are a new threat on major sporting events that utilise new-age technology to have any impact, but an old-fashioned net may provide a somewhat simple solution to any potential threats in Pyeongchang.
North Korea triggers 2018 Winter Olympics security scare
Paris (AFP) – Austria and Germany joined France on Friday in raising the spectre of staying away from the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea amid security fears over nuclear-armed North Korea.
Despite efforts by the International Olympic Committee to calm the jitters, winter Olympic powerhouse Austria said it was prepared to envisage staying away from the Pyeongchang Games next February if security concerns deepened.
Karl Stoss, head of Austria’s national Olympic committee, said that “if the situation worsens and the security of our athletes is no longer guaranteed, we will not go to South Korea.”
Stoss’ comments follow those by France’s Sports Minister Laura Flessel, who warned Thursday: “If this gets worse and we do not have our security assured, then our French team will stay here.”
The absence of Austria and other leading winter sports powers would be a hammer blow to the Pyeongchang Games.
Austria alone took home 17 medals from the previous Winter Olympics Sochi Games in 2014 and has been the dominant force in alpine skiing and ski jumping.
A more muted response came from Germany, another winter sports heavyweight that tops the all-time Olympic medal table in biathlon, luge and bobsleigh, and whose team won 19 medals in Sochi including eight golds.
The security question and the possibility of keeping the German team at home would be addressed “in good time” by the government, the National Olympic Committee and security authorities, the German interior ministry told AFP subsidiary SID.
French sports minister Flessel, a five-time Olympic medallist in fencing, was the first leading politician to publicly cast doubt over a country’s participation at the Olympics which run from February 9-25 in Pyeongchang which is situated just 80km (50 miles) from the heavily-fortified frontier with North Korea.
– ‘No Plan B’ –
On Friday, the IOC issued a statement aimed at calming security fears amid escalating tensions over bellicose North Korea’s recent nuclear test and missile launches.
“Athletes safety and security are of course a primary concern for the IOC,” the statement said.
“We are in close contact with the heads of government concerned and the United Nations over the past months and there, in none of the discussions, has anybody expressed any doubt about the Olympic Winter Games 2018.”
“We continue to monitor the situation on the Korean Peninsula and the region very closely. We are working with the Organising Committee on the preparations of these Games which continue to be on track.”
IOC president Thomas Bach sought personally to downplay security fears 10 days ago, and a day earlier a confident IOC spokesman insisted: “There is no plan B”.
However, the situation has since deteriorated, sparking concern among some countries while others say they are preparing for the event as normal.
Sweden’s sports minister Annika Standhall, speaking to news agency TT, said it was “very worrying that some countries are imagining not to taking part…” while neighbour Norway said normal preparation were under way.
Italy said they had been reassured by IOC chief Bach’s statement on security and were looking forward to a “safe and secure” Olympics while Dutch Olympic Committee spokesman Geert Slot said growing tension on the Korean peninsula was a factor but saw no reason “as things stand at the moment” to follow the French example.
The United States Olympic Committee chief executive Scott Blackmun said moving forward as planned and have confidence in Pyeongchang’s organizing committee.
“The United States Olympic Committee is very much looking forward to the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, and will participate in the upcoming lighting of the Olympic Flame in Olympia to celebrate the approaching Games,” Blackmun said in a news release. “Our preparations continue in earnest and, as with all Games, we will continue to work with our state department and local organizers to ensure that our athletes, and our entire delegation, are safe.
“We are confident in the Pyeongchang organizing committee’s ability to deliver a great Games.”
Canada, who won 10 gold medals at Sochi four years ago and have claimed 13 Olympic ice hockey titles, also played down the risks.
“The safety of our entire Canadian Olympic team is always our main priority, no matter where the Games are held,” said Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) spokesman Photi Sotiropoulos.
“The COC and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) have representatives in South Korea and have routinely done site visits to the country.
“The government of Canada does not currently have travel advisories in place for South Korea and recommends that Canadians exercise normal security precautions, which is the lowest of four risk levels.”
South Korea adds extra layer of 2018 Winter Olympics security amid tensions
SEOUL: Rattled by rising tensions with North Korea, South Korea is taking extra measures to try to ensure the safety of the 2018 Winter Games, including setting up a crack cyber defense team and doubling the number of troops, according to officials and documents reviewed by Reuters.The Games take place next February in the mountainous resort town of Pyeongchang, just 80 kilometers from the heavily fortified border with North Korea.They come after a series of missile and nuclear tests show the North making rapid advances in its weapons program and as inflammatory rhetoric between Pyongyang and Washington stirs up concerns about another conflict on the Korean peninsula.South Korea’s Defense Ministry will deploy some 5,000 armed forces personnel at the Games, double the 2,400 on duty during the 2002 World Cup, which South Korea co-hosted with Japan, according to government officials and documents reviewed by Reuters.Pyeongchang’s organizing committee for the 2018 Games (POCOG) is also selecting a private cybersecurity company to guard against a hacking attack from the North, tender documents show.The committee is seeking to fast track the selection as tensions rise in the wake of South Korea’s controversial deployment of the US THAAD anti-missile system, and as North Korean leader Kim Jong Un tests weapons at an unprecedented rate.“Cyber threats have increased due to external factors such as the THAAD deployment and recent North Korean missile launches,” the committee said in the document.South Korea has blamed the North for a series of hacking attempts in the last few years, including a 2013 cyberattack against South Korean banks and broadcasters that froze computer systems for more than a week. Pyongyang denied any responsibility.While South Korea faces unique challenges with its hostile and nuclear-armed neighbor, the level of threats and security to counter them have escalated globally since South Korea last hosted a major international sporting event.The POCOG is hiring a private security contractor, stipulating the firm should be capable of running around 500 personnel to operate X-ray screening each day during the event, a separate document seen by Reuters shows.It has earmarked 20 billion won ($17.6 million) for the screening security measures and another 1.3 billion won for the cybersecurity protection, according to the documents.An official from the National Intelligence Service, South Korea’s spy agency, is in charge of security operations, working with the government’s anti-terrorism center, the organizing committee’s spokeswoman told Reuters. South Korea has also created a new Special Weapons and Tactics team to guard against terrorism around the Games, Asia’s first Winter Olympics outside Japan.“We will search Olympic venues to check for bombs, protect athletes and visitors, and guard against any attempts to assassinate key figures,” Jin Jeong-hyeon, a police inspector from the SWAT team, told Reuters.In late August, the POCOG held a two-day briefing with major Olympic sponsors including McDonald’s Corp. and Coca-Cola Co. to talk about the measures being put in place, according to a government statement. It gave them a look at emergency evacuation facilities during the briefing, though further details were not disclosed.
PAST AGGRESSIONSWhile some observers view Pyongyang’s threats as bluster, others point to instances of North Korean aggression during the 2002 World Cup and ahead of the 1988 Seoul Olympics as reasons to be concerned.In June 2002, as South Korea prepared to play Turkey in the playoff for third place at the World Cup, North Korean patrol boats crossed the disputed maritime border and exchanged fire with South Korean vessels, killing six South Korean sailors.In November 1987, just nine months before South Korea was set to host the Summer Games in Seoul, North Korean agents detonated a bomb on Korean Air Flight 858, killing all 104 passengers and 11 crew.One of the agents later told investigators the order had come from North Korean leader Kim Jong Il and one of the aims had been to frighten international athletes and visitors from attending the Seoul Olympics.Other Olympics have also been affected by violence, most notably the killing of 11 Israeli athletes by Palestinian militants at the 1972 Munich Games. Mexican police and military killed hundreds of civilians during a protest just days before the Mexico City Olympics in 1968.South Korea’s sports minister Do Jong-whan said this week Seoul was “very concerned about aggressive remarks” traded between Pyongyang and Washington but did not believe Kim would risk a war against countries participating at the Olympics.The International Olympics Committee is encouraging the participation of North Koreans as athletes, judges or “wild cards” to help ensure the safety of the Olympics, Do added.Chang Ung, North Korea’s IOC member, said earlier this month that the Pyeongchang Olympics will not be affected by the escalating crisis on the peninsula and North Korea will hopefully be able to send athletes. Figure skating, short track speed skating and Nordic skiing could potentially feature North Korean athletes, he said.Despite the heightened security measures, there isn’t a lot South Korea can do to reassure participants, said Lee Soo-hyuck, a former foreign affairs presidential secretary.“This issue is more about whether North Korea would decide to carry out hostile actions or not.”
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