September 15, 2017 / 3:18 PM / 2 years ago

Ex-U.N. chief Ban expects safe Pyeongchang 2018 despite nuclear tension

Newly elected head of the International Olympic Committee's ethics commission, former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon speaks during the 131st IOC session in Lima, Peru, September 14, 2017. REUTERS/Guadalupe Pardo

(Reuters) - Former United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is confident that next year’s Winter Olympics in his native South Korea will be safe and successful, despite tensions surrounding North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.

Less than five months before the start of the Games in Pyeongchang, world powers are grappling for a response to a series of nuclear tests by the North and its repeated test-firing of ballistic missiles, of which the latest flew over Japan and far out into the Pacific on Friday.

“Even though there is heightened tension on the Korean peninsula, I’m sure that this Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games will be a great success, with a great deal of stability,” Ban told the Olympic Channel in an interview.

“I’m quite confident that we will have a very safe, very peaceful and harmonious Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang next year.”

Ban was elected head of the International Olympic Committee’s ethics commission on Thursday as the Olympic body strives to improve its image amid a string of corruption cases.

The Winter Olympics will run from Feb. 9-25 next year.

Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Mark Trevelyan

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