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USOC letter assures Olympians about South Korea security

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The U.S. Olympic Committee’s security chief sent a letter to potential Winter Olympians saying there are no indications that recent developments between the U.S. and North Korea have compromised security in South Korea.

The letter, obtained by The Associated Press shortly after it was sent Friday, makes no suggestion that the U.S. is considering skipping the PyeongChang Winter Games for security reasons.

But Chief Security Officer Nicole Deal does write that provocations that have been volleyed between the United States and North Korea are likely to persist for the foreseeable future, and “should not be dismissed as insignificant nor feared as precursors of an inevitable conflict.”

The letter comes at the end of a week in which France’s sports minister suggested the country’s athletes would stay home if security could not be guaranteed.

The International Olympic Committee, trying to calm concerns, reiterated that in conversations with high-level officials in China and South Korea, none have expressed doubt about the Winter Games proceeding as scheduled, next February.

The USOC also sent out a public statement Friday from CEO Scott Blackmun.

“We will continue to work with our State Department and local organizers to ensure that our athletes, and our entire delegation, are safe,” he said.

The letter, sent to athletes, national governing bodies and other Olympic leaders in the United States, said the USOC’s security division is operating as “business as usual for our security planning and preparations.”

Deal writes that the USOC is reviewing crisis management plans that address a range of potential scenarios “to ensure our athletes, and our entire delegation, are safe.”

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IOC calms Olympic concern amid North Korea tension

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — With France’s sports minister raising questions about security, the IOC is trying to calm concern about the PyeongChang Winter Olympics.

The International Olympic Committee said Friday it has been in close contact with the United Nations and the “heads of government concerned.”

IOC President Thomas Bach met with China President Xi Jinping in Tianjin last month and with South Korea President Moon Jae-in at the U.N. in New York.

“In none of the discussions, has anybody expressed any doubt” about the Winter Games, the IOC said in a statement.

Tensions fueled by North Korea’s missile testing rose this week after U.S. President Donald Trump used his U.N. General Assembly speech to threaten the country’s destruction. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un described Trump as “deranged.”

France’s sports minister, Laura Flessel, suggested on Thursday its team could stay home if its security could not be assured in South Korea.

“Athletes’ safety and security are of course a primary concern for the IOC,” the Olympic body said.

U.S. Olympic Committee CEO Scott Blackmun said “we will continue to work with our State Department and local organizers to ensure that our athletes, and our entire delegation, are safe.” He added that the USOC is confident South Korean organizers would deliver a “great Games.”

Olympic officials in winter sports hubs like Austria, Denmark and Sweden said Friday it was too early to doubt participation in PyeongChang, where the games open Feb. 9.

“We feel safe,” Peter Reinebo of Sweden’s Olympic Committee said, adding that a decision to stay away would require an “international decision from the United Nations and a strong warning from Swedish authorities.”

“But such things do not exist today. We are completely focused on going and taking part,” Reinebo said.

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Hope Solo settles grievance with U.S. Soccer

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Hope Solo has settled a grievance with U.S. Soccer over her suspension from the women’s national team following comments she made at the Rio Olympics.

The settlement was first reported by the San Francisco Chronicle. The 35-year-old goalkeeper was suspended for six months and her contract with the federation was terminated after she called the Swedish team “a bunch of cowards” following the U.S. team’s quarterfinal loss.

Details about the settlement, reached last month, were not released. The U.S. Women’s Soccer Team Players Association filed the grievance on Solo’s behalf.

In a statement provided Friday to The Associated Press, Solo reiterated her regret over the comments.

“As I expressed in my apology to the Swedish captain immediately following the match, I have tremendous respect for the Swedish team, and in describing the style of play, I used a choice of words that was both offensive and not at all what I had intended to convey,” she said.

“We have amicably resolved the matter and are moving forward in a positive way,” she added.

U.S. Soccer did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The Women’s Soccer Team Players Association declined to comment.

Solo anchored the team in goal for the 2015 Women’s World Cup victory, allowing just three goals in seven games with five shutouts during the tournament — earning her a second straight Golden Glove Award.

For her career, Solo has made 202 total appearances with the national team, with 153 wins and an international-record 102 shutouts.

The defending champion U.S. women were ousted from the Olympics last summer when Sweden advanced 4-3 on penalty kicks following a 1-1 draw.

Solo’s “cowards” quote came immediately following the loss. Sweden went on to lose the gold-medal match to Germany.

Solo told the AP late last year that she spoke to coach Jill Ellis and U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati following the loss, and felt that the issue was put to rest. After she returned to the United States, she said she was blindsided by the announcement about her suspension.

She said she believes U.S. Soccer wanted her off negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement. Solo has been an outspoken advocate for equal pay and was among the players who filed a complaint against the federation with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging wage discrimination.

“Let’s call it what is, which is a firing,” Solo told AP then. “It was a termination of my contract effective immediately with severance. That is a firing. It wasn’t a suspension, that’s what they told the media because it looked better. But I got fired. I got fired for what they say was using the word ‘cowards’ but in reality they got rid of an adversary in the fight for equal pay.”

U.S. Soccer said at the time that Solo was suspended following a culmination of actions, and separately her contract was also terminated with the team.

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