Report: Russian spies hacked Opening Ceremony and could be targeting Closing Ceremony

Kevin Kaduk
Yahoo Sports
Fireworks detonate after the Olympic flame was lit during the opening ceremony (AP photo)
Fireworks detonate after the Olympic flame was lit during the opening ceremony (AP photo)

Russian spies hacked computers during the Opening Ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, an act that was at first speculated to be the work of North Korea.

The hacking was uncovered by U.S. intelligence and first reported by the Washington Post on Saturday night, attributing the story to two U.S. officials who requested anonymity.

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The attack has not been publicly confirmed by any U.S. agency.

Analysts believed the Russians instigated the Feb. 9 attack as a way to retaliate for the International Olympic Committee’s decision to ban Russia from the 2018 Winter Olympics as punishment for doping violations. They also believe Sunday’s Closing Ceremony could be targeted.

The IOC announced on Sunday that the Russian ban will stay in place for the Closing Ceremony, meaning the Olympic Athletes From Russia will not be able to resume wearing Russian team uniforms or march in the parade under the Russian flag.

“We’re watching it pretty closely,” one analyst told the Post about the Closing Ceremony. “It’s essentially a Korean problem” but “we will help the Koreans as requested.”

The Opening Ceremony incident included disruptions to the Olympics website, broadcast systems and an elaborate drone display that was supposed to take place during the ceremony. (A pretaped version was used instead.)

U.S. officials said the intrusion was staged as a “false-flag operation,” so that others would believe the North Korean regime was responsible.

Reuters later speculated the Russians could be behind the attack and asked Russia’s foreign ministry if they were.

“We know that Western media are planning pseudo-investigations on the theme of ‘Russian fingerprints’ in hacking attacks on information resources related to the hosting of the Winter Olympic Games in the Republic of Korea,” the foreign ministry said at the time.

“Of course, no evidence will be presented to the world.”

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