Defense drones, military officers and hundreds of surveillance cameras will be in place as the Winter Olympics kick off in South Korea this week amid omnipresent nuclear tensions with North Korea. But organizers are also working to keep the atmosphere fun.
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“They want people to enjoy the games. They don’t want it to look like it’s a military camp or a police camp,” Mike Evanoff, U.S. assistant secretary of state for Diplomatic Security, told ABC News ahead of the games, where more than 240 American athletes will compete. The U.S. Department of State works closely with the U.S. Olympic Committee and the host country.
His bureau has coordinated security between the U.S. Olympic Committee and the host country at every Olympics since the Summer Games in Montreal in 1976, according to The Associated Press.
“So, they’re here and they’re ready, but at the same time we want everybody to feel comfortable,” Evanoff added, referring to the blanket of military and police personnel scheduled to keep watch.
An estimated 60,000 South Korean personnel, including 50,000 soldiers, will be deployed throughout the Olympic venues, nearly twice as many as there were on hand at the 2016 games in Rio, Brazil, authorities said.
In addition, there will also be more than 800 security cameras in place as well as K-9 units, special forces and anti-kidnapping squads available to ensure public safety, according to authorities.
“We need it. That’s the way it is right now,” Evanoff said when asked about the presence of attack drones. “For every major event ... there’s always going to be an eye in the sky.”
The drones, which security officials say will be capable of snatching possible bomb-carrying enemy drones out of the air, have been used for major U.S. events, including past Super Bowls, according to Evanoff.
“For the Koreans, this is a big event for them for using drones,” Evanoff said.
Officials from the CIA and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will also be working in conjunction with South Korea amid anxiety over possible provocations from North Korea.
Members of the South Korean military held anti-terrorism drills in Pyeongchang in preparation for different threat scenarios last month. One of the drills called for soldiers to react to a planted bomb scenario, which they responded to with the assistance of army dogs and drones, according to the AP.
"We will firmly maintain a readiness posture to make the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics the safest Olympic Games in history and do our best to ensure security until the last day of the games," South Korean Army Colonel Hwang In-ju, from the 36th battalion, told AP reporters last month.