Korean delegates arrive in Seoul for pre-Olympics inspection

22 January, 2018, 02:21 | Author: Yolanda Murray
  • IOC meets on N Korea participation in Winter Games

Seoul's Unification Ministry says the North Korean delegation crossed the borderline on Sunday inside the heavily fortified Demilitarized Zone bisecting the two Koreas. "I'm sure that this will be a very emotional moment not only for all Koreans but also for the entire world", Bach said.

North and South Korea remain technically at war since the Korean war ended with armistice, not a peace treaty, in 1953.

North Korea will also send: two figure skaters to compete in the pairs competition; two male speed skaters; two men and one women in cross-country skiing distance events; two men and one woman in Alpine skiing's slalom and giant slalom races.

In a diplomatic breakthrough after a year of escalating tension over the North's nuclear and missile programmes, the International Olympic Committee announced yesterday that North Korea will send 22 athletes to the Winter Games and compete in three sports and five disciplines.

Bach said reaching this outcome "was not an easy journey" but that he was proud of what the representatives of the two Koreas, the IOC and the Pyeongchang 2018 Organizing Committee had achieved. The preparations are part of the North's participation in the games, an apparent diplomatic breakthrough after months of high tension over the North's nuclear and missile programme.

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All parties signed the Olympic Korean Peninsula Declaration after the meeting, which finalizes the necessary details of the DPRK's participation in the games.

"Such an agreement would have seemed impossible only a few weeks ago", said Mr Bach.

"The Olympic Games are always about building bridges, they never erect walls". However, to maintain fairness for opponents, only 22 can suit up for each game.

In the most symbolic agreement approved Saturday, 12 North Korean women's hockey players will join their neighbors in a united roster playing in special uniforms with a Korean song as their anthem.

There has been skepticism about Kim Jong Un's offer. "The IOC today has taken exceptional decisions and has allocated additional quota for 22 athletes from the NOC of the DPRK, who will compete in three sports and five disciplines in Pyeongchang", Bach said.

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The IOC approves the request of the NOCs of ROK and DPRK to have their delegations marching together as one under the name "Korea" at the Opening Ceremony.

North Korea said the remarks it took issue with were in the vein of "the US desperately trying to reverse the trend of detente and improvement of inter-Korean relations, which is hardly achieved now", seemingly referring to the apparent diplomatic breakthrough surrounding the Winter Olympics, according to a statement from the Permanent Mission of the DPRK to the United Nations.

"Our players were really nervous", Sarah Murray, South Korean women's hockey head coach, told Reuters last month during the team's training swing through the United States.

A delegation of 150 North Korean athletes and supporters will attend the Paralympics, Seoul's Unification Ministry said.

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