Koreas united on Winter Olympics

Ruben Hill
January 21, 2018

After the two Koreas struck a deal for the North to attend the Winter Games in the South, Olympic bosses were meeting today to resolve the devils in the details of the landmark pact.With less than three weeks to go before the Games in Pyeongchang begin, the most momentous decisions have already been made.

The South's Unification Ministry said the two sides exchanged opinions on several issues, including the size of the North Korean athletics team and joint cultural events.

The North's participation in the Winter Olympics in South Korea's Pyeongchang has been interpreted as an apparent diplomatic breakthrough after months of high tension over the North's nuclear and missile programme.

A unified team "would positively reflect the Olympic ideals of social development and peace through sport", the International Ice Hockey Federation said Thursday in a statement.

The IOC has further approved a plan for North and South to field a unified women's hockey team, IOC chief Thomas Bach told reporters following a meeting here Saturday with sports and government officials from the two countries. The International Olympic Committee is now examining the request.

"We will work actively to improve North-South Korean relations but will not stand still to actions that are against unification", the North's Rodong Sinmun newspaper said.

The actual team of North Korean athletes could be in single figures or as many as 15.

International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach said there would be a combined Korean team competing for the first time with athletes from both countries forming a joint women's ice hockey team.

Two figure skaters qualified for the pairs event but were not entered in time.

North Korea and South Korea had held a high-level meeting last week and a working-level meeting this week on North's participation in the Winter Olympics.

"Adding somebody so close to the Olympics is a little bit risky just for team chemistry because the girls have been together for so long", South Korea coach Sarah Murray said. "North Korea dialogue to follow the North-South dialogue", said the ministry in its statement.

Protocol around Korean flags, anthems and uniforms at the games also will be debated Saturday before a scheduled news conference with Bach.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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