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Sports Pulse: USA TODAY Sports reporter Rachel Axon breaks down the IOC’s decision to ban Russia from the Winter Olympics.
USA TODAY Sports

With tensions between the United States and North Korea escalating, whether or not Team USA athletes will be participating in the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, is coming into question.

Speaking on Fox News, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said it’s an “open question” if U.S. Olympic athletes will be in South Korea and competing come February.

“I think those are conversations we are going to have to have, but what have we always said? We don’t ever fear anything, we live our lives,” Haley said in the interview. “And certainly that is a perfect opportunity for all of them to go and do something they have worked so hard for.

“What we will do is make sure that we are taking every precaution possible, to make sure that they are safe.”

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This sentiment comes 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 many advanced warplanes.

The U.S. has only boycotted the Olympics Games once. That came in 1980, when the Games were held in the Soviet Union, and as a response to that country’s invasion of Afghanistan.

In September, France indicated that it would not compete in the 2018 Winter Olympics if safety could not be guaranteed and the state of North Korea’s atomic weapons program intensified.

The U.S. Olympic Committee has consistently said that it is continuing preparations to compete in Pyeongchang and has been in contact with the state department, law enforcement and met with the four-star general in charge of U.S forces in South Korea in August.

Speaking in late October, USOC vice president of sport performance Kelly Skinner said, “Every Games environment brings about unique challenges, and we have some tremendous partners in the State Department that can help us prepare. Team USA’s preparations continue in earnest. We will make sure that the athletes and the staff are safe when we’re in Korea.”

The USOC did not immediately return a message from USA…