US vows tough sanctions on DPRK as Kim Jong Un sends sister to Olympics

World Today

Canada’s Patrick Chan practices on the men single skating in the Gangneung Ice Arena before the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games on February 7, 2018. ( AFP PHOTO / Aris Messinis)

Just two days before the opening ceremony of the PyeongChang Winter Game, the U.S. Vice President vowed tough new sanctions against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

In the meantime, the DPRK announced the sister of leader Kim Jong Un will be attending the Games. This will be the first time a member of the ruling family will be set foot in the South.

CGTN’s Jim Spellman reports.

The Olympic torch is close at hand, and the athletes are getting in their final training as the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang will soon begin.

A group of cheerleaders from the DPRK has arrived. The athletes from both countries will march together, and players from each side will make up a joint women’s ice hockey team.

Many South Koreans are welcoming the cooperation, even if it’s only temporary.

“Everyone knows that North Korea [will] participate in our Olympics. So I mean this is a good opportunity to all of the world,” said one South Korean resident.

But the U.S. is using the Winter Olympics to send a tough message about the DPRK nuclear program.

The U.S. delegation will be led by Vice President Pence. Speaking in Japan, Pence said new sanctions against the DPRK will be announced soon.

“Together with Japan and our allies let the world know this: we will continue to intensify our maximum pressure campaign until North Korea takes concrete steps toward complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization,” Pence in Tokyo said.

The fate of 13 Russian athletes and two coaches is unclear. The athletes have been banned from the games for Russia’s violation of anti-doping rules. A last ditch appeal is underway at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Olympics officials are taking a tough stance against performance enhancing substances.

“During the Games, there will be over 2,500 tests, blood and urine tests, 1,400 out-of-competition, 1,000 in competition,” said Mark Adams, the spokesperson of the International Olympic Committee. “And athletes from Russia have been tested twice as much as any other nation.”

Also on the health front, there’s been an outbreak of the highly contagious norovirus in PyeongChang. Dozens confirmed sick but so far no athletes.

But the biggest issue for those attending the Games may be the weather. Temperatures for Friday’s opening ceremony may be as cold as 10 below zero Celsius.

Stephan Haggard on what’s behind the DPRK’s planned military parade

The Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea plans to hold a military parade one day before the Winter Olympics. Critics suggest it’s an attempt to upstage the games. To understand what’s behind the move, CGTN’s Mike Walter spoke with Stephan Haggard, professor of Korea-Pacific Studies and director of the Korea-Pacific Program at the University of California – San Diego.