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Suspected North Korean hypersonic missile exploded in flight, South Korea says

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Suspected North Korean hypersonic missile exploded in flight, South Korea says
News

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Suspected North Korean hypersonic missile exploded in flight, South Korea says

2024-06-26 20:51 Last Updated At:21:01

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — A suspected hypersonic missile launched by North Korea exploded in flight on Wednesday, South Korea’s military said, as North Korea protests the regional deployment of a U.S. aircraft carrier for a military drill with South Korea and Japan.

Later Wednesday, South Korea conducted live-fire drills along its disputed western sea boundary with North Korea, its first since it suspended a 2018 agreement with the North aimed at reducing front-line military tensions in early June.

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In this photo provided by the South Korea Defense Ministry, a South Korean Air Force F-35A fighter jet takes off during a combined air force exercise between the United States and South Korea at Chungju Air Base in Chungju, South Korea, Wednesday, June 26, 2024. (South Korea Defense Ministry via AP)

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — A suspected hypersonic missile launched by North Korea exploded in flight on Wednesday, South Korea’s military said, as North Korea protests the regional deployment of a U.S. aircraft carrier for a military drill with South Korea and Japan.

In this photo provided by the South Korea Defense Ministry, the U.S. Air Force's F-22 fighter jet takes off during a combined air force exercise between the United States and South Korea at Chungju Air Base in Chungju, South Korea, Wednesday, June 26, 2024. (South Korea Defense Ministry via AP)

In this photo provided by the South Korea Defense Ministry, the U.S. Air Force's F-22 fighter jet takes off during a combined air force exercise between the United States and South Korea at Chungju Air Base in Chungju, South Korea, Wednesday, June 26, 2024. (South Korea Defense Ministry via AP)

In this photo provided by the South Korea Defense Ministry, the U.S. Air Force's F-16 fighter jet takes off during a combined air force exercise between the United States and South Korea at Chungju Air Base in Chungju, South Korea, Wednesday, June 26, 2024. (South Korea Defense Ministry via AP)

In this photo provided by the South Korea Defense Ministry, the U.S. Air Force's F-16 fighter jet takes off during a combined air force exercise between the United States and South Korea at Chungju Air Base in Chungju, South Korea, Wednesday, June 26, 2024. (South Korea Defense Ministry via AP)

In this photo provided by the South Korea Defense Ministry, the South Korean Marine's K-9 self-propelled howitzers fire during a live-fire drills at Yeonpyeong Island near maritime border with North Korea, South Korea, Wednesday, June 26, 2024. (South Korea Defense Ministry via AP)

In this photo provided by the South Korea Defense Ministry, the South Korean Marine's K-9 self-propelled howitzers fire during a live-fire drills at Yeonpyeong Island near maritime border with North Korea, South Korea, Wednesday, June 26, 2024. (South Korea Defense Ministry via AP)

In this photo provided by the South Korea Defense Ministry, the South Korean Marine's Spike missile is launched during a live-fire drills at Yeonpyeong Island near maritime border with North Korea, South Korea, Wednesday, June 26, 2024. (South Korea Defense Ministry via AP)

In this photo provided by the South Korea Defense Ministry, the South Korean Marine's Spike missile is launched during a live-fire drills at Yeonpyeong Island near maritime border with North Korea, South Korea, Wednesday, June 26, 2024. (South Korea Defense Ministry via AP)

In this photo provided by the South Korea Defense Ministry, the South Korean Marine's Chunmoo multiple rocket launcher systems fire a missile during a live-fire drills at Yeonpyeong Island near maritime border with North Korea, South Korea, Wednesday, June 26, 2024. (South Korea Defense Ministry via AP)

In this photo provided by the South Korea Defense Ministry, the South Korean Marine's Chunmoo multiple rocket launcher systems fire a missile during a live-fire drills at Yeonpyeong Island near maritime border with North Korea, South Korea, Wednesday, June 26, 2024. (South Korea Defense Ministry via AP)

Visitors walk near a wire fence decorated with ribbons written with messages wishing for the reunification of the two Koreas at the Imjingak Pavilion in Paju, South Korea, Wednesday, June 26, 2024. A suspected hypersonic missile launched by North Korea exploded in flight on Wednesday, South Korea's military said, a development that comes as North Korea is protesting the regional deployment of a U.S. aircraft carrier for a trilateral military drill with South Korea and Japan. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

Visitors walk near a wire fence decorated with ribbons written with messages wishing for the reunification of the two Koreas at the Imjingak Pavilion in Paju, South Korea, Wednesday, June 26, 2024. A suspected hypersonic missile launched by North Korea exploded in flight on Wednesday, South Korea's military said, a development that comes as North Korea is protesting the regional deployment of a U.S. aircraft carrier for a trilateral military drill with South Korea and Japan. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

A North Korean soldier stands at the North's military guard post as a North Korean flag flutters in the wind, seen from Paju, South Korea, Wednesday, June 26, 2024. A suspected hypersonic missile launched by North Korea exploded in flight on Wednesday, South Korea's military said, a development that comes as North Korea is protesting the regional deployment of a U.S. aircraft carrier for a trilateral military drill with South Korea and Japan. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

A North Korean soldier stands at the North's military guard post as a North Korean flag flutters in the wind, seen from Paju, South Korea, Wednesday, June 26, 2024. A suspected hypersonic missile launched by North Korea exploded in flight on Wednesday, South Korea's military said, a development that comes as North Korea is protesting the regional deployment of a U.S. aircraft carrier for a trilateral military drill with South Korea and Japan. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

Visitors use binoculars to see the North Korean side from the unification observatory in Paju, South Korea, Tuesday, June 25, 2024. South Korea threatened Tuesday to restart anti-Pyongyang frontline propaganda broadcasts in the latest bout of Cold War-style campaigns between the rivals after North Korea resumed its trash-carrying balloon launches. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

Visitors use binoculars to see the North Korean side from the unification observatory in Paju, South Korea, Tuesday, June 25, 2024. South Korea threatened Tuesday to restart anti-Pyongyang frontline propaganda broadcasts in the latest bout of Cold War-style campaigns between the rivals after North Korea resumed its trash-carrying balloon launches. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

A file image of a missile launch by North Korea is shown during a news program, at Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, June 26, 2024. North Korea fired a ballistic missile toward its eastern waters on Wednesday, South Korea's military said, in an apparent protest of the recent regional deployment of a U.S. aircraft carrier for a new trilateral military drill with South Korea and Japan. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

A file image of a missile launch by North Korea is shown during a news program, at Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, June 26, 2024. North Korea fired a ballistic missile toward its eastern waters on Wednesday, South Korea's military said, in an apparent protest of the recent regional deployment of a U.S. aircraft carrier for a new trilateral military drill with South Korea and Japan. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

People watch a news program broadcasting a file image of a missile launch by North Korea, at Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, June 26, 2024. A North Korean ballistic missile test on Wednesday likely ended in failure, South Korea's military said, days after the North protested the recent regional deployment of a U.S. aircraft carrier for a new trilateral military drill with South Korea and Japan. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

People watch a news program broadcasting a file image of a missile launch by North Korea, at Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, June 26, 2024. A North Korean ballistic missile test on Wednesday likely ended in failure, South Korea's military said, days after the North protested the recent regional deployment of a U.S. aircraft carrier for a new trilateral military drill with South Korea and Japan. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

Contrails believed to be created by a North Korean missile are observed over seas off Yeonpyeong Island, South Korea, Wednesday, June 26, 2024. A suspected hypersonic missile launched by North Korea exploded in flight on Wednesday, South Korea's military said, a development that comes as North Korea is protesting the regional deployment of a U.S. aircraft carrier for a trilateral military drill with South Korea and Japan. (Kim Do-hoon/Yonhap via AP)

Contrails believed to be created by a North Korean missile are observed over seas off Yeonpyeong Island, South Korea, Wednesday, June 26, 2024. A suspected hypersonic missile launched by North Korea exploded in flight on Wednesday, South Korea's military said, a development that comes as North Korea is protesting the regional deployment of a U.S. aircraft carrier for a trilateral military drill with South Korea and Japan. (Kim Do-hoon/Yonhap via AP)

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, center, boards the USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier at the South Korean naval base in Busan, South Korea, Tuesday, June 25, 2024 (South Korean Presidential Office/Yonhap via AP)

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, center, boards the USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier at the South Korean naval base in Busan, South Korea, Tuesday, June 25, 2024 (South Korean Presidential Office/Yonhap via AP)

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, third from left, boards the USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier at the South Korean naval base in Busan, South Korea, Tuesday, June 25, 2024 (South Korean Presidential Office/Yonhap via AP)

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, third from left, boards the USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier at the South Korean naval base in Busan, South Korea, Tuesday, June 25, 2024 (South Korean Presidential Office/Yonhap via AP)

A news program broadcasts a file image of a missile launch by North Korea, at Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, June 26, 2024. North Korea fired a ballistic missile toward its eastern waters on Wednesday, South Korea's military said, in an apparent protest of the recent regional deployment of a U.S. aircraft carrier for a new trilateral military drill with South Korea and Japan. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

A news program broadcasts a file image of a missile launch by North Korea, at Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, June 26, 2024. North Korea fired a ballistic missile toward its eastern waters on Wednesday, South Korea's military said, in an apparent protest of the recent regional deployment of a U.S. aircraft carrier for a new trilateral military drill with South Korea and Japan. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

A visitor looks at the North Korean side from the unification observatory in Paju, South Korea, Tuesday, June 25, 2024. South Korea threatened Tuesday to restart anti-Pyongyang frontline propaganda broadcasts in the latest bout of Cold War-style campaigns between the rivals after North Korea resumed its trash-carrying balloon launches. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

A visitor looks at the North Korean side from the unification observatory in Paju, South Korea, Tuesday, June 25, 2024. South Korea threatened Tuesday to restart anti-Pyongyang frontline propaganda broadcasts in the latest bout of Cold War-style campaigns between the rivals after North Korea resumed its trash-carrying balloon launches. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

The North Korean missile was launched at about 5:30 a.m. and was travelling off the North's east coast before it blew up, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said. Missile fragments were scattered in the water up to 250 kilometers (155 miles) from the launch site near North Korea's capital, it said. No damage was immediately reported.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff said it believes the weapon was a solid-fueled hypersonic missile. The launch generated more smoke than normal launches, possibly because of an engine fault, it told reporters.

In a three-way phone call, senior diplomats from South Korea, the U.S. and Japan condemned the missile launch as a violation of U.N. resolutions and agreed to maintain close coordination over North Korea, according to South Korea’s Foreign Ministry.

North Korea has performed a series of hypersonic missile tests since 2021 in an apparent effort to acquire an ability to penetrate its rivals’ missile defense shields. Foreign experts question whether the missiles have achieved their desired speed and maneuverability during the test flights. In recent years, North Korea has also been developing more missiles that use solid propellants, Launches of such missiles are harder to detect than liquid-propellant missiles, which must be fueled before liftoff.

Wednesday's missile test came as the rival Koreas are engaged in Cold War-style psychological warfare using balloons and loudspeaker broadcasts.

On Wednesday night, South Korea said that North Korea was flying large balloons likely carrying trash across the border for a third consecutive day. Previous launches dropped manure, cigarette butts, waste batteries, scraps of cloth and waste papers in South Korea.

Tuesday night's balloons launches resulted in the suspension of takeoffs and landings at South Korea's Incheon International Airport, about an hour’s drive from the border, for three hours early Wednesday, in the second such disruption since the North’s balloon launches began on May 28, according to South Korean aviation authorities.

North Korea says it is responding to balloons launched by South Korean activists that carried political leaflets into the North. On June 9, South Korea briefly conducted propaganda broadcasts from loudspeakers along the border for the first time in years in response to the North Korean balloons. South Korea’s military said Monday it is ready to turn on its loudspeakers again.

On Wednesday, South Korean forces on front-line islands fired 290 artillery and missile rounds into the waters near the Koreas' western sea boundary, the site of several bloody naval skirmishes since 1999, the South Korean marine corps said. It said South Korea will regularly conduct firing drills there.

Such firing exercises were prohibited under the 2018 tension-easing deal with North Korea, which required both countries to cease all hostile acts along their land and sea borders. The deal had already been in danger of collapsing in recent months, with the two Koreas firing artillery rounds near the sea boundary in January and taking other steps that violated it.

Also Wednesday, South Korea and the U.S. flew 30 advanced fighter jets as part of joint drills this week.

The aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt arrived in South Korea on Saturday, and North Korean Vice Defense Minister Kim Kang Il on Monday called its deployment “reckless” and “dangerous.” North Korea has previously described major U.S.-South Korean drills as invasion rehearsals and has reacted with missile tests.

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol visited the vessel on Tuesday, becoming the first sitting South Korean president to board a U.S. aircraft carrier since 1994. Yoon told American and South Korean forces on the carrier that their countries’ alliance is the world’s greatest and can defeat any enemy. He said the U.S. carrier would depart Wednesday for the South Korea-U.S.-Japan drill, dubbed “Freedom Edge.”

South Korean officials said the training aims to strengthen the three countries’ capability to respond to North Korea’s evolving nuclear threats at a time when the North is advancing its military partnership with Russia.

During a summit in North Korea's capital last week, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a deal requiring each country to provide aid to the other if it is attacked and vowed to boost other cooperation. Analysts say the accord represents the strongest connection between the two countries since the end of the Cold War.

The United States and its partners believe North Korea has been providing Russia with conventional arms for its war in Ukraine in return for military and economic assistance.

North Korea’s missile launch on Wednesday was its first weapons demonstration since Kim Jong Un on May 30 supervised the firing of nuclear-capable multiple rocket launchers to simulate a preemptive attack on South Korea.

Since 2022, North Korea has sharply increased its weapons tests to boost its nuclear attack capabilities in response to what it calls a deepening U.S. military threat. Foreign experts say North Korea eventually aims to use its larger nuclear arsenal to wrest greater concessions from the U.S. when talks resume between them.

Follow AP’s Asia-Pacific coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/asia-pacific

In this photo provided by the South Korea Defense Ministry, a South Korean Air Force F-35A fighter jet takes off during a combined air force exercise between the United States and South Korea at Chungju Air Base in Chungju, South Korea, Wednesday, June 26, 2024. (South Korea Defense Ministry via AP)

In this photo provided by the South Korea Defense Ministry, a South Korean Air Force F-35A fighter jet takes off during a combined air force exercise between the United States and South Korea at Chungju Air Base in Chungju, South Korea, Wednesday, June 26, 2024. (South Korea Defense Ministry via AP)

In this photo provided by the South Korea Defense Ministry, the U.S. Air Force's F-22 fighter jet takes off during a combined air force exercise between the United States and South Korea at Chungju Air Base in Chungju, South Korea, Wednesday, June 26, 2024. (South Korea Defense Ministry via AP)

In this photo provided by the South Korea Defense Ministry, the U.S. Air Force's F-22 fighter jet takes off during a combined air force exercise between the United States and South Korea at Chungju Air Base in Chungju, South Korea, Wednesday, June 26, 2024. (South Korea Defense Ministry via AP)

In this photo provided by the South Korea Defense Ministry, the U.S. Air Force's F-16 fighter jet takes off during a combined air force exercise between the United States and South Korea at Chungju Air Base in Chungju, South Korea, Wednesday, June 26, 2024. (South Korea Defense Ministry via AP)

In this photo provided by the South Korea Defense Ministry, the U.S. Air Force's F-16 fighter jet takes off during a combined air force exercise between the United States and South Korea at Chungju Air Base in Chungju, South Korea, Wednesday, June 26, 2024. (South Korea Defense Ministry via AP)

In this photo provided by the South Korea Defense Ministry, the South Korean Marine's K-9 self-propelled howitzers fire during a live-fire drills at Yeonpyeong Island near maritime border with North Korea, South Korea, Wednesday, June 26, 2024. (South Korea Defense Ministry via AP)

In this photo provided by the South Korea Defense Ministry, the South Korean Marine's K-9 self-propelled howitzers fire during a live-fire drills at Yeonpyeong Island near maritime border with North Korea, South Korea, Wednesday, June 26, 2024. (South Korea Defense Ministry via AP)

In this photo provided by the South Korea Defense Ministry, the South Korean Marine's Spike missile is launched during a live-fire drills at Yeonpyeong Island near maritime border with North Korea, South Korea, Wednesday, June 26, 2024. (South Korea Defense Ministry via AP)

In this photo provided by the South Korea Defense Ministry, the South Korean Marine's Spike missile is launched during a live-fire drills at Yeonpyeong Island near maritime border with North Korea, South Korea, Wednesday, June 26, 2024. (South Korea Defense Ministry via AP)

In this photo provided by the South Korea Defense Ministry, the South Korean Marine's Chunmoo multiple rocket launcher systems fire a missile during a live-fire drills at Yeonpyeong Island near maritime border with North Korea, South Korea, Wednesday, June 26, 2024. (South Korea Defense Ministry via AP)

In this photo provided by the South Korea Defense Ministry, the South Korean Marine's Chunmoo multiple rocket launcher systems fire a missile during a live-fire drills at Yeonpyeong Island near maritime border with North Korea, South Korea, Wednesday, June 26, 2024. (South Korea Defense Ministry via AP)

Visitors walk near a wire fence decorated with ribbons written with messages wishing for the reunification of the two Koreas at the Imjingak Pavilion in Paju, South Korea, Wednesday, June 26, 2024. A suspected hypersonic missile launched by North Korea exploded in flight on Wednesday, South Korea's military said, a development that comes as North Korea is protesting the regional deployment of a U.S. aircraft carrier for a trilateral military drill with South Korea and Japan. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

Visitors walk near a wire fence decorated with ribbons written with messages wishing for the reunification of the two Koreas at the Imjingak Pavilion in Paju, South Korea, Wednesday, June 26, 2024. A suspected hypersonic missile launched by North Korea exploded in flight on Wednesday, South Korea's military said, a development that comes as North Korea is protesting the regional deployment of a U.S. aircraft carrier for a trilateral military drill with South Korea and Japan. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

A North Korean soldier stands at the North's military guard post as a North Korean flag flutters in the wind, seen from Paju, South Korea, Wednesday, June 26, 2024. A suspected hypersonic missile launched by North Korea exploded in flight on Wednesday, South Korea's military said, a development that comes as North Korea is protesting the regional deployment of a U.S. aircraft carrier for a trilateral military drill with South Korea and Japan. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

A North Korean soldier stands at the North's military guard post as a North Korean flag flutters in the wind, seen from Paju, South Korea, Wednesday, June 26, 2024. A suspected hypersonic missile launched by North Korea exploded in flight on Wednesday, South Korea's military said, a development that comes as North Korea is protesting the regional deployment of a U.S. aircraft carrier for a trilateral military drill with South Korea and Japan. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

Visitors use binoculars to see the North Korean side from the unification observatory in Paju, South Korea, Tuesday, June 25, 2024. South Korea threatened Tuesday to restart anti-Pyongyang frontline propaganda broadcasts in the latest bout of Cold War-style campaigns between the rivals after North Korea resumed its trash-carrying balloon launches. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

Visitors use binoculars to see the North Korean side from the unification observatory in Paju, South Korea, Tuesday, June 25, 2024. South Korea threatened Tuesday to restart anti-Pyongyang frontline propaganda broadcasts in the latest bout of Cold War-style campaigns between the rivals after North Korea resumed its trash-carrying balloon launches. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

A file image of a missile launch by North Korea is shown during a news program, at Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, June 26, 2024. North Korea fired a ballistic missile toward its eastern waters on Wednesday, South Korea's military said, in an apparent protest of the recent regional deployment of a U.S. aircraft carrier for a new trilateral military drill with South Korea and Japan. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

A file image of a missile launch by North Korea is shown during a news program, at Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, June 26, 2024. North Korea fired a ballistic missile toward its eastern waters on Wednesday, South Korea's military said, in an apparent protest of the recent regional deployment of a U.S. aircraft carrier for a new trilateral military drill with South Korea and Japan. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

People watch a news program broadcasting a file image of a missile launch by North Korea, at Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, June 26, 2024. A North Korean ballistic missile test on Wednesday likely ended in failure, South Korea's military said, days after the North protested the recent regional deployment of a U.S. aircraft carrier for a new trilateral military drill with South Korea and Japan. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

People watch a news program broadcasting a file image of a missile launch by North Korea, at Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, June 26, 2024. A North Korean ballistic missile test on Wednesday likely ended in failure, South Korea's military said, days after the North protested the recent regional deployment of a U.S. aircraft carrier for a new trilateral military drill with South Korea and Japan. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

Contrails believed to be created by a North Korean missile are observed over seas off Yeonpyeong Island, South Korea, Wednesday, June 26, 2024. A suspected hypersonic missile launched by North Korea exploded in flight on Wednesday, South Korea's military said, a development that comes as North Korea is protesting the regional deployment of a U.S. aircraft carrier for a trilateral military drill with South Korea and Japan. (Kim Do-hoon/Yonhap via AP)

Contrails believed to be created by a North Korean missile are observed over seas off Yeonpyeong Island, South Korea, Wednesday, June 26, 2024. A suspected hypersonic missile launched by North Korea exploded in flight on Wednesday, South Korea's military said, a development that comes as North Korea is protesting the regional deployment of a U.S. aircraft carrier for a trilateral military drill with South Korea and Japan. (Kim Do-hoon/Yonhap via AP)

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, center, boards the USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier at the South Korean naval base in Busan, South Korea, Tuesday, June 25, 2024 (South Korean Presidential Office/Yonhap via AP)

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, center, boards the USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier at the South Korean naval base in Busan, South Korea, Tuesday, June 25, 2024 (South Korean Presidential Office/Yonhap via AP)

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, third from left, boards the USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier at the South Korean naval base in Busan, South Korea, Tuesday, June 25, 2024 (South Korean Presidential Office/Yonhap via AP)

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, third from left, boards the USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier at the South Korean naval base in Busan, South Korea, Tuesday, June 25, 2024 (South Korean Presidential Office/Yonhap via AP)

A news program broadcasts a file image of a missile launch by North Korea, at Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, June 26, 2024. North Korea fired a ballistic missile toward its eastern waters on Wednesday, South Korea's military said, in an apparent protest of the recent regional deployment of a U.S. aircraft carrier for a new trilateral military drill with South Korea and Japan. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

A news program broadcasts a file image of a missile launch by North Korea, at Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, June 26, 2024. North Korea fired a ballistic missile toward its eastern waters on Wednesday, South Korea's military said, in an apparent protest of the recent regional deployment of a U.S. aircraft carrier for a new trilateral military drill with South Korea and Japan. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

A visitor looks at the North Korean side from the unification observatory in Paju, South Korea, Tuesday, June 25, 2024. South Korea threatened Tuesday to restart anti-Pyongyang frontline propaganda broadcasts in the latest bout of Cold War-style campaigns between the rivals after North Korea resumed its trash-carrying balloon launches. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

A visitor looks at the North Korean side from the unification observatory in Paju, South Korea, Tuesday, June 25, 2024. South Korea threatened Tuesday to restart anti-Pyongyang frontline propaganda broadcasts in the latest bout of Cold War-style campaigns between the rivals after North Korea resumed its trash-carrying balloon launches. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

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Salt Lake City celebrates announcement that it will host the 2034 Winter Olympics

2024-07-24 20:49 Last Updated At:20:50

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Salt Lake City was formally awarded the 2034 Winter Olympics following a Wednesday vote by the International Olympic Committee in Paris, giving Utah its second Games after hosting in 2002.

About a thousand sports fans gathered downtown at 3 a.m. local time — 11 a.m. in Paris — to watch the long-anticipated announcement live. Some dressed in ski gear in the summer heat, while others donned Team USA merchandise and waved flags with the Olympic rings. The crowd erupted in cheers as Olympic officials made their final decision to return to a city where they said the local enthusiasm was palpable even two decades after it first hosted.

Utah's capital city was the only candidate for 2034 after the Olympic committee gave Salt Lake City exclusive negotiating rights last year. Climate change and high operational costs have reduced the number of cities willing and able to welcome the Winter Games. Utah has capitalized on low interest elsewhere, pitching itself to Olympic officials as an eager repeat host if the committee eventually adopts a permanent rotation of Winter Olympic cities. Olympic Games Executive Director Christophe Dubi said Salt Lake City would be a prime candidate for such a plan.

Local leaders had their sights set on hosting multiple times even before Salt Lake City welcomed its first Games, bid team spokesperson Tom Kelly said. Remnants of the 2002 Games are nestled throughout the city and have kept the Olympic fever alive. Organizers of the 2034 Games touted that enduring enthusiasm throughout the selection process and showed visiting Olympic officials how they have preserved nearly all the venues used in 2002.

“Enthusiasm for the Games was always our feeling, on the first minute to the last minute, in every interaction we had, both at the venues and in our meetings with athletes, sports leaders, politicians and the private sector,” Karl Stoss, chairman of the International Olympic Committee’s Future Host Commission, told the full committee Wednesday morning in Paris.

Darrell Robinson of Herriman, Utah, celebrated with his family in the early hours Wednesday after his daughter, who was too young to remember Utah’s first Olympics, begged him to join her at the Salt Lake watch party. Robinson also was present when it was announced that the city would host the 2002 Games, and he said it was amazing to relive that moment.

The 2002 Games closely followed the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and provided a unifying atmosphere Robinson said was needed at the time.

“Everyone was really united and we were able to invite all these countries and just heal as a global community,” he said. “That's something we need again.”

Wednesday's local party coincided with a state holiday marking the date Mormon pioneers discovered the Salt Lake Valley in northern Utah. A drone show lit up the sky over City Hall and parade floats lined the streets, merging the two celebrations into one.

In their final presentation to Olympic officials, the Utah bid team outlined its plan for one of the most compact layouts in Olympic history, with all venues within a one-hour drive of the athletes village on the University of Utah campus. The plan requires no new permanent construction, with all 13 venues already in place and each having played a role when the city first hosted.

Before the vote, Olympic officials inserted into Salt Lake City's host contract a clause that said local officials must work with current and future U.S. presidents and members of Congress to alleviate concerns about a U.S. federal investigation of suspected doping by Chinese swimmers. The committee's unprecedented strong-arm tactics seemed to send a message that the FBI should back away from the case.

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox agreed to the committee's demands but told reporters after the vote that the shakeup nearly delayed the bid agreement.

For Cox, securing the bid was central to his goal of cementing the state as North America’s winter sports capital. He and other local leaders were in Paris for the presentation, while many winter Olympians stayed in town to train and join in the festivities.

American freestyle skier Christopher Lillis, a gold medalist at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, said the 2034 Games will be a dream come true for young people with Olympic aspirations. He has been training at nearby Utah Olympic Park and said the sports facilities in the area are “top notch.”

Kate Cross, the mother of a young girl who described herself as a “future gold medalist skier," said the Olympics are the ultimate source of inspiration. Cross moved to Utah a few years after the 2002 Games and is excited to attend Olympic events in person for the first time — possibly as the parent of an athlete.

“We're out here in the middle of the night because she's too excited to sleep,” Cross said. “It's given her something to strive for, a 10-year plan. As a parent, it's amazing to see your kid that motivated.”

People celebrate while watching a live feed from Paris at the moment the International Olympic Committee awarded Salt Lake City the 2034 Winter Olympics, Wednesday, July 24, 2024, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Spenser Heaps)

People celebrate while watching a live feed from Paris at the moment the International Olympic Committee awarded Salt Lake City the 2034 Winter Olympics, Wednesday, July 24, 2024, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Spenser Heaps)

People celebrate while watching a live feed from Paris at the moment the International Olympic Committee awarded Salt Lake City the 2034 Winter Olympics, Wednesday, July 24, 2024, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Spenser Heaps)

People celebrate while watching a live feed from Paris at the moment the International Olympic Committee awarded Salt Lake City the 2034 Winter Olympics, Wednesday, July 24, 2024, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Spenser Heaps)

People celebrate while watching a live feed from Paris moments after the International Olympic Committee awarded Salt Lake City the 2034 Winter Olympics, Wednesday, July 24, 2024, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Spenser Heaps)

People celebrate while watching a live feed from Paris moments after the International Olympic Committee awarded Salt Lake City the 2034 Winter Olympics, Wednesday, July 24, 2024, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Spenser Heaps)

People celebrate while watching a live feed from Paris moments after the International Olympic Committee awarded Salt Lake City the 2034 Winter Olympics, Wednesday, July 24, 2024, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Spenser Heaps)

People celebrate while watching a live feed from Paris moments after the International Olympic Committee awarded Salt Lake City the 2034 Winter Olympics, Wednesday, July 24, 2024, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Spenser Heaps)

Olympic rings are pictured Wednesday, July 24, 2024, in Salt Lake City, while people gather to watch a live stream from Paris as the International Olympic Committee awards Salt Lake City the 2034 Winter Olympics. (AP Photo/Spenser Heaps)

Olympic rings are pictured Wednesday, July 24, 2024, in Salt Lake City, while people gather to watch a live stream from Paris as the International Olympic Committee awards Salt Lake City the 2034 Winter Olympics. (AP Photo/Spenser Heaps)

People celebrate while watching a live feed from Paris at the moment the International Olympic Committee awarded Salt Lake City the 2034 Winter Olympics, Wednesday, July 24, 2024, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Spenser Heaps)

People celebrate while watching a live feed from Paris at the moment the International Olympic Committee awarded Salt Lake City the 2034 Winter Olympics, Wednesday, July 24, 2024, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Spenser Heaps)

Patricia Huhem, left, and her daughter, Elisa Huhem, celebrate while watching a live feed from Paris moments after the International Olympic Committee awarded Salt Lake City the 2034 Winter Olympics, Wednesday, July 24, 2024, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Spenser Heaps)

Patricia Huhem, left, and her daughter, Elisa Huhem, celebrate while watching a live feed from Paris moments after the International Olympic Committee awarded Salt Lake City the 2034 Winter Olympics, Wednesday, July 24, 2024, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Spenser Heaps)

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox speaks about Salt Lake City's bid to host the 2034 Winter Olympics, during the 142nd IOC session at the 2024 Summer Olympics, Wednesday, July 24, 2024, in Paris, France. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox speaks about Salt Lake City's bid to host the 2034 Winter Olympics, during the 142nd IOC session at the 2024 Summer Olympics, Wednesday, July 24, 2024, in Paris, France. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

A woman makes a selfie with Utah Gov. Spencer Cox, left, and IOC president Thomas Bach, center, during the 142nd IOC session at the 2024 Summer Olympics, Wednesday, July 24, 2024, in Paris, France, after Salt Lake City was confirmed as host for the 2034 Winter Games by International Olympic Committee. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

A woman makes a selfie with Utah Gov. Spencer Cox, left, and IOC president Thomas Bach, center, during the 142nd IOC session at the 2024 Summer Olympics, Wednesday, July 24, 2024, in Paris, France, after Salt Lake City was confirmed as host for the 2034 Winter Games by International Olympic Committee. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

Utah's Olympic delegation poses for a photo at a sendoff celebration at the Salt Lake International Airport prior to boarding a flight to France on Monday, July 22, 2024. (Scott G Winterton/The Deseret News via AP)

Utah's Olympic delegation poses for a photo at a sendoff celebration at the Salt Lake International Airport prior to boarding a flight to France on Monday, July 22, 2024. (Scott G Winterton/The Deseret News via AP)

Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall, left, Fraser Bullock and Utah Gov. Spencer Cox take a selfie near the plane as Utah's Olympic delegation boards Delta Flight 2034, Monday, July 22, 2024, bound for Paris from the Salt Lake International Airport. (Scott G Winterton/The Deseret News via AP)

Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall, left, Fraser Bullock and Utah Gov. Spencer Cox take a selfie near the plane as Utah's Olympic delegation boards Delta Flight 2034, Monday, July 22, 2024, bound for Paris from the Salt Lake International Airport. (Scott G Winterton/The Deseret News via AP)

Olympic champion Derek Parra, Fraser Bullock, Utah Gov. Spencer Cox and Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall and others laugh as they cut a cake as Utah's Olympic delegation gather for a sendoff celebration, Monday, July 22, 2024, at the Salt Lake International Airport prior to boarding a flight to France. (Scott G Winterton/The Deseret News via AP)

Olympic champion Derek Parra, Fraser Bullock, Utah Gov. Spencer Cox and Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall and others laugh as they cut a cake as Utah's Olympic delegation gather for a sendoff celebration, Monday, July 22, 2024, at the Salt Lake International Airport prior to boarding a flight to France. (Scott G Winterton/The Deseret News via AP)

Delta flight 2034 bound for Paris and carrying Utah's Olympic delegation takes off from the Salt Lake International Airport, Monday, July 22, 2024. (Scott G Winterton/The Deseret News via AP)

Delta flight 2034 bound for Paris and carrying Utah's Olympic delegation takes off from the Salt Lake International Airport, Monday, July 22, 2024. (Scott G Winterton/The Deseret News via AP)

Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall, Fraser Bullock and Utah Gov. Spencer Cox, from left, pose for a photo near the plane as Utah's Olympic delegation boards Delta Flight 2034, Monday, July 22, 2024, bound for Paris at the Salt Lake International Airport.. (Scott G Winterton/The Deseret News via AP)

Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall, Fraser Bullock and Utah Gov. Spencer Cox, from left, pose for a photo near the plane as Utah's Olympic delegation boards Delta Flight 2034, Monday, July 22, 2024, bound for Paris at the Salt Lake International Airport.. (Scott G Winterton/The Deseret News via AP)

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