S. Korea bound: Olympic reporter talks security concerns, predictions

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Andrew Wittenberg (Wittenberg)

Utah’s KLS TV anchor and reporter, Andrew Wittenberg has covered many major sporting events like Rio de Janeiro in 2016. This weekend, he chats with Matt Bubala about heading to South Korea for the 2018 Olympics. With the event only fifty-four days away, Wittenberg discusses South Korea’s preparation. “The Olympic venues are completely done or very close to it, it’s much different than the past two Olympic cycles,” he says.

As the event draws closer,  one main concern is security issues. “It’s an extremely tense situation. Mountain venues are less than fifty miles away from the demilitarized zone along that border with North Korea. It’s a close proximity for some pretty tense stuff,” Wittenberg says.  He explains that South Koreans have dealt with threats for years and five thousand security officers will be present at the Olympics in Pyeongchang. Wittenberg says there is “anxiety about what could happen” but from his experience he thinks that the “Olympics are something that bring people together.”

Russian athletes have been banned from this year’s Olympics due to allegations of doping, including six female hockey players who have been banned for life. However, Wittenberg says some athletes can still participate under the neutral flag if they get accepted by the International Olympic Committee. The NHL announced that they will not be participating in the Winter Olympics this year. “Olympics are the kind of event that transcends politics in some way,” he explains. Wittenberg says the NHL’s decision to not participate will impact ratings. U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley, released a statement last week saying there was “review” in place on whether or not American athletes were also competing this year. Despite recent threats, the United States will send athletes to South Korea.

The games will begin February 9, 2018 in Pyeongchang, South Korea. For more updates, follow Andrew Wittenberg on social media.