Security More Relaxed In Pyeongchang Than Previous Games
Security at the Pyeongchang Games "has been low-key, lacking the heavily armed presence of previous Olympics," and the "lack of a highly visible security presence reflects the low levels of violent crime," according to a front-page piece by Michaels & Madhani of USA TODAY. Guns used for hunting or target practice in South Korea "must be registered and kept at a local police station." Even biathletes "couldn’t bring their rifles to their rooms and had to place them in a guarded warehouse, unlike previous Olympics." South Korea "has fewer guns per capita than any developed nation." Most police "don’t carry sidearms, and few citizens can legally possess guns." POCOG said that the lack of a visible armed presence "shouldn’t be confused with lax security." South Korea’s 625,000-person active duty military is "well-trained and equipped with modern U.S. arms." It also has a "well-regarded intelligence service." There are more than 25,000 American troops in Pyeongchang as well, "helping to defend the South in the event of an attack" (USA TODAY, 2/18).
ALL GOOD SO FAR: The IOC is giving the Pyeongchang Games a "thumbs-up ... at the halfway mark, saying organizers had delivered on promises despite some empty seats in the venues." The Games have seen "no major operational disruption, as was the cause in previous Olympics." POCOG has said that empty seats "were due to some postponements at the start due to winds, the Lunar New Year and a cold snap at the start of the Games." Venues like "Alpine skiing and short track speed skating -- hugely popular in South Korea -- were not full during preliminaries" (REUTERS, 2/18).