South Korean police prepare to protect North Korean Olympic visitors

Olympic Plaza in PyeongChang, some 180 kilometers east of Seoul, South Korea. Photo courtesy of EPA-EFE/Yonhap.

SEOUL, South Korea, Jan. 16 (UPI) —┬áSouth Korean Police are preparing to ramp up security protection for North Koreans attending the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics next month.

This comes amid anticipation that North Korea will send hundreds of athletes, officials, and cheerleaders, as well as reporters and performers, to the Games in Pyeongchang, about 50 miles down from the border.

On Monday, National Police Agency Chief Lee Cheol-seong said that security officers will launch operations at the Olympic venue next Thursday to prepare for the North Korean delegation’s visit.

“In the past, there were a number of cases in which North Korean athletes’ movements were disrupted and some people were caught attempting to infiltrate their accommodation,” he said.

Hundreds of North Korean athletes, officials and supporters have attended major sporting events in the South, according to Yonhap.

Some 700 came to the 2002 Asian Games held in Busan city and 273 athletes from the North took part in the Incheon Asian Games in 2014.

“This could be the biggest delegation in history. Based on experiences from the past, we will prepare to mobilize a sufficient police force,” Lee said.

According to the police chief, the size of the North Korean delegation is likely to be confirmed after an International Olympic Committee meeting on Saturday in Switzerland.

Local police are also scaling up measures to ensure safety during the Games, Newsis reported.

Gangwon Provincial Police Agency said Monday up to 9,000 policemen will be dispatched to a total of 30 locations throughout the Olympic stadium as well as transit sites and tourist facilities in the surrounding Gangwon area.

SWAT teams, police dogs and armored vehicles will patrol the Pyeongchang Olympic Plaza and the athletes’ village, while special forces will be dispatched around train stations in the province.

Police are also training to respond to terror attacks in the forms of weaponized drones, charging vehicles and CBR threats.


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