Army replaces more than 1,000 Olympic guards at risk of norovirus

The South Korean military will be surrounding the upcoming Olympic Games after more than a thousand security guards were pulled from duty over norovirus fears.

Officials at the Pyeongchang Olympics, set to begin on Friday, said in a statement that 900 members of the host country’s forces will be used in place of the workers.

More than 40 security guards came down with symptoms such as sudden vomiting and diarrhea, according to the organizers, though all of the roughly 1,200 security workers are being kept in their rooms until they can be tested.

Investigations into the outbreak of the disease are reportedly centered on food and water at one of the facilities in Pyeongchang, in the mountains along South Korea’s eastern coast.

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Members of Special Weapon and Tactics (SWAT) take part in a security drill, ahead of the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium, the venue for the opening and closing ceremony in Pyeongchang, South Korea December 12, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji
A South Korean police officer takes part in a security drill ahead of the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium, the venue for the opening and closing ceremony in Pyeongchang, South Korea December 12, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji
Vehicles explode during a security drill ahead of the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium, venue for the opening and closing ceremony in Pyeongchang, South Korea December 12, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji
South Korean police officers take part in a security drill ahead of the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium, the venue for the opening and closing ceremony in Pyeongchang, South Korea December 12, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji
Members of Special Weapon and Tactics (SWAT) take part in a security drill ahead of the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium, the venue for the opening and closing ceremony in Pyeongchang, South Korea December 12, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji
Members of the South Korean Special Warfare Command take part in a security drill ahead of the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium, the venue for the opening and closing ceremony in Pyeongchang, South Korea December 12, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji
South Korean government safety officers and firefighters take part in a security drill ahead of the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium, the venue for the opening and closing ceremony in Pyeongchang, South Korea December 12, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji
Members of Special Weapon and Tactics (SWAT) take part in a security drill ahead of the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium, the venue for the opening and closing ceremony in Pyeongchang, South Korea December 12, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji
South Korean firefighters take part in a security drill ahead of the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium, the venue for the opening and closing ceremony in Pyeongchang, South Korea December 12, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji
Members of Special Weapon and Tactics (SWAT) take part in a security drill ahead of the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium, the venue for the opening and closing ceremony in Pyeongchang, South Korea December 12, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji
Members of Special Weapon and Tactics (SWAT) and the Special Warfare Command take part in a security drill ahead of the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium, the venue for the opening and closing ceremony in Pyeongchang, South Korea December 12, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji
A South Korean police officer takes part in a security drill ahead of the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium, the venue for the opening and closing ceremony in Pyeongchang, South Korea December 12, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji
A South Korean army helicopter flies over the Olympic Stadium, the venue for the opening and closing ceremony during a security drill ahead of the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea December 12, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji
Members of Special Weapon and Tactics (SWAT) take part in a security drill ahead of the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium, the venue for the opening and closing ceremony in Pyeongchang, South Korea December 12, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji
Members of the Special Warfare Command take part in a security drill ahead of the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium, the venue for the opening and closing ceremony in Pyeongchang, South Korea December 12, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji
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It was not immediately clear what other actions are being taken to protect the nearly 3,000 athletes set to compete at the Games, though head organizer Lee Hee-beom said that some would be announced soon.

He also said that wind screens were being installed at an event for ski jumping over concerns about winds, which add to cold conditions that have dropped below 0 degrees Fahrenheit at night.

Other athlete safety measures include the donation of 110,000 condoms for the Olympic Village, a record for the winter games and an average of 38 condoms per athlete.

The South Korean festivities have also brought renewed focus on tensions that have roiled the peninsula it shares with its isolated northern neighbor.

Recently North Korea has begun to show signs of goodwill towards Seoul, however, and is sending a small group of athletes including figure skaters and hockey players to march under the same flag as South Koreans after a resumption of talks that stalled for two years.

Vice President Mike Pence will lead an American delegation to the Games as part of a tour that includes stops in Alaska and Japan, and is bringing along Fred Warmbier, whose son Otto Warmbier died after being held in a North Korea prison.

Pence told reporters that he had not requested any meetings with North Korea officials during his trip, but did not rule it out and said “we’ll see what happens.”

With News Wire Services

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