Don’t worry, NBC–and, of course, U.S. Olympians who’ve been training for years–with two months until the opening ceremony of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, the games will go on for Team USA.
But for about 20 hours, there was uncertainty.
On Martha MacCallum‘s Fox News show last night, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley said “there is an open question” about whether the Team USA would participate in the South Korea games. This afternoon, CBS’s Major Garrett asked press secretary Sarah Sanders about it at the White House briefing. “No official decision has been made on that, and we’ll keep you guys posted,” Sanders said.
After the briefing, Sanders settled the matter, tweeting:
UPDATE: The U.S. looks forward to participating in the Winter Olympics in South Korea. The protection of Americans is our top priority and we are engaged with the South Koreans and other partner nations to secure the venues.
— Sarah Sanders (@PressSec) December 7, 2017
Here’s the original back-and-forth between Haley and MacCallum from Wednesday night, which freaked out many:
MacCallum: In terms of the threat of potential military action in that region, we have United States athletes heading to South Korea soon. Do you think it is safe from them to go there in this environment?
Haley: I think those are conversations were going to have to have, but what have we always said? We won’t ever fear anything. We live our lives, we use our freedom, we have that. Certainly, that is a perfect opportunity for all of them to go and do something they have worked so hard for. What we’ll do is we will make sure we are taking every precaution possible to make sure that they are they are safe, and to know everything that’s going on around them. So I think that’s something where the administration is going to come together and find out the best way to make sure that they’re protected.
MacCallum: Initially you said: “We have to look at it.” Is it not a done deal? Is the United States recommending that our team goes, or is that an open question in this environment?
Haley: There is an open question. I have not heard anything about that. But I do know that in the talks that we have had, whether it is Jerusalem, North Korea, it is always about, how do we do protect US citizens in the area. Those are conversations that are happening daily.
MacCallum: Do you feel comfortable sending family members, if they were athletes on our team?
Haley: I think it depends on what is going on in the country. We have to watch it closely, and it is changing by the day.
Haley’s comments come as North Korea says that a nuclear war on the Korean Peninsula has become a matter of when, not if. This was a response to a joint military exercise between the U.S. and South Korea involving a number of warplanes.
The U.S. has only boycotted the Olympics once, in 1980 when the Games were held in the Soviet Union, and as a response to the U.S.S.R.’s invasion of Afghanistan.
Comcast and NBC have billions invested in the Olympic Games. In 2011, NBC bid $4.38 billion for the 2014, 2016, 2018 and 2020 games. In 2014, the company extended its deal with the IOC for the rights to broadcast the games in the U.S. through 2032.