AUSTRIA & GERMANY joined France on Friday in raising the spectre of staying away from 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea amid security fears over nuclear armed North Korea.

Despite efforts by the International Olympics Committee to calm the  jitters, winter Olympic powerhouse Austria said it was prepared to envisage staying away from the  Pyeongchang  Games next February if security concerns deepened.

Karl Stoss, head of Austria's national Olympic committee, said that, ''if the situation worsens and the security of our athletes is no longer guaranteed, we will not go to South Korea.''

Stoss comments follow those by  France's Sports Minister Laura Flessel, who warned Thursday : ''If this gets worse and we do not have our security assured, then our French Team will stay here.''

The absence of Austria and other leading winter sports powers would be a hammer blow to the  Pyeongchang Games.

Austria alone took home  17 medals from the previous Winter Olympics Sochi Games in 2014 and has been the dominant force in alpine skiing and ski jumping.

A more muted response came from Germany, another winter sports heavyweight that tops the all-time Olympic medal table in biathlon, luge and bobsleigh and, and whose team won 19 medals in Sochi including eight golds.


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