The Latest: North Korea not interested in meeting Pence

Olympic Athletes from Russia Anastasia Bryzgalova, right, and Aleksandr Krushelnitckii train ahead of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (AP) The Latest from the Pyeongchang Olympics (all times local):

1:15 p.m.

North Korea says it is not interested in meeting U.S. Vice President Mike Pence while he is in South Korea for the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

Pyongyang is sending a senior delegation – including Kim Jong Un’s younger sister – and rumors had circulated such a meeting could be in the works. A top Foreign Ministry official seemed to rule that out in comments carried by North Korea’s state-run media Thursday.

”We have no intention to meet with the U.S. side during the stay in South Korea,” the official was quoted as saying. ”We are not going to use such sports festival as the Winter Olympics as a political lever. There is no need to do so.”

Pence is scheduled to arrive in South Korea from Japan on Thursday.

12:55 p.m.

The most prized Olympic titles in Alpine skiing will be won this month on downhill courses raced only once before, and lined with trees that are sacred as symbols of fertility.

Only after the South Korean region was picked as host in 2011 were the wide speed tracks in Jeongseon cut through the forest. The mountain is now a pure competition venue for the Pyeongchang Games rather than a hub for ski tourism.

The best downhillers have each had only one World Cup race to fully test the jumps and terrain in cold air sweeping down from Siberia.

Lindsey Vonn, the 2010 Olympic champion, says it’s a very unique course. The men’s downhill race is Sunday and the women race on Feb. 21.

12:45 p.m.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport says six more Russian athletes have filed appeals seeking to compete at the Pyeongchang Olympics.

The six include two world champion speedskaters, Denis Yuskov and Pavel Kulizhnikov, plus athletes from biathlon and ski jumping.

All six were originally refused invitations to compete by the International Olympic Committee. All have previously served bans of various lengths for failed drug tests. The IOC had said it wouldn’t invite athletes previously banned for doping.

Seven Russian support personnel have filed appeals in another case.

The court says the new cases will be heard separately from ongoing hearings for 45 Russian athletes and two coaches. The opening ceremonies are Friday.

12:30 p.m.

South Korea says the number of people treated and quarantined for norovirus following an outbreak in Olympic areas has increased to 86 as authorities struggle to track the spread of the disease.

Hong Jeong-ik from South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday the number of cases is likely to continue to rise because authorities are screening more areas for the disease.

Officials had initially confirmed 32 cases among security personnel and sequestered about 1,200. Because the sick workers handled security, 900 military personnel have been brought in to work at 20 venues.

The Olympic organizing committee said 63 of those sickened, mostly security staff, were staying at a youth training center in Pyeongchang. The committee did not say where the other 23 were staying but did say 12 are police officers, seven are committee staff and four are press support staff.

Hong says officials suspect the outbreak was caused by contaminated water but that an ongoing epidemiological survey has yet to confirm that.

Norovirus is a common, infectious bug that causes unpleasant symptoms including diarrhea and vomiting but doesn’t require medical treatment.

11:50 a.m.

Some of the Russian athletes seeking last-ditch admission to the Pyeongchang Olympics have arrived for their appeal hearings.

Forty-five Russian athletes and two coaches are seeking to overturn the International Olympic Committee’s decision not to invite them to the games. If they win, it would force the IOC to accept athletes it considers to be linked to doping offenses.

In attendance for Thursday’s hearing at a luxury resort near the Olympic facilities are Elena Nikitina, the 2014 bronze medalist in women’s skeleton, and luger Tatiana Ivanova, who won silver in the team event in 2014.

Nikitina says she is optimistic about winning the case.

Other athletes whose cases will be heard include Viktor Ahn, a six-time Olympic gold medalist in short-track speedskating, and cross-country ski gold medalist Alexander Legkov.

A few of the Russians have said that even if they win, they won’t take up their invitations because they haven’t been training.

11:30 a.m.

Erin Hamlin will carry the U.S. flag into Friday’s opening ceremony at the Pyeongchang Olympics.

The four-time Olympic luger was chosen by fellow Team USA Olympians for the honor. Hamlin is retiring at the end of the Olympics, after nearly two decades of racing competitively.

Hamlin says ”it is definitely a privilege and honor to be the one to lead the team.”

The native of Remsen, New York, won a bronze medal at the 2014 Sochi Games and is a two-time world champion. She’s also the fourth luge athlete to carry the U.S. flag into an Olympics.

10:10 a.m.

The Pyeongchang Olympics have begun with a curling competition featuring a pair of U.S. siblings in a showdown against a Russian husband-and-wife team competing in neutral uniforms with no national insignia.

The opening ceremony is still a day away, but the games are already underway. Among the athletes are 168 Russians who are being forced to compete under the neutral banner of ”Olympic Athletes from Russia” as punishment for doping in Sochi in 2014. Others who were barred altogether have filed appeals to the Court of Arbitration for Sport and are still hoping to be allowed to participate.

The first event is mixed doubles curling, which is making its Olympic debut. The more familiar single-gender version of curling will begin later in the games.

There were four games played simultaneously Thursday morning.

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