Bach on Koreas: ‘Now it’s for politics to take over’

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (AP) President Thomas Bach believes the IOC has done its part in getting North Korea and South Korea together at the Pyeongchang Olympics.

The ball’s now in the court of the divided nation.

”Now it’s for politics to take over,” Bach said during a visit to The Associated Press office at the Olympics. ”You know sport cannot create peace. We cannot lead their political negotiations. We have sent this message – this dialogue – that negotiations can lead to a positive result. Now it’s up to the political side to use this momentum.”

Bach said he’s hopeful the detente will continue after the ”Olympic flame has been extinguished” at the closing ceremony on Feb. 25 in the frigid mountains of South Korea.

Bach has been emotional about the Koreas and their presence together. He was born in West Germany and won a gold medal in fencing for a divided Germany.

Bach described the Olympics as ”off to a great start” and dismissed the fact that high winds forced the first two Alpine skiing races to be rescheduled for later in the week when the cold and wind is expected to moderate.

”These cancellations do not worry us at all,” he said. ”The international federations, with whom we have talked, they have told us there is no reason to worry. We have two weeks to go. We are an outdoor sport and we manage these kind of cancellations.”

Local organizers apologized Monday for up to two-hour bus delays impacting 55,000 workers and volunteers who have been forced to wait in cold, freezing weather. Buses have been irregular, slow moving and there have been too few for some of those working the Olympics.

Organizers said transportation for dignitaries and athletes had been going off without a hitch.

”There are some shortfalls,” said Kang Hee-up, director general of transport. ”I’d like to apologize for the inconvenience caused.”

Kang added: ”We have had limited resources and this is a mountainous area, and the shortage of infrastructure here has been a factor. We prepared. But now as we are operating on site, the demand is going over our capacity to meet it.”

Organizers said they are using 1,800 buses at the Olympics, and hope to add about 10 percent more to meet the demand. They say a $3 million budget increase to fund the buses has already been approved by the local organizing committee.

”I cannot remember any games when we did not have transportation problems in the beginning,” Bach said. ”You cannot rehearse an Olympic Games in regard to transport.”

More AP Olympics: https://wintergames.ap.org

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