Winter Olympics 2018: North, South Korean officials to meet at IOC headquarters to chalk out Pyongyang's participation

Lausanne: Officials from North and South Korea will meet at the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) headquarters on 20 January to hammer out the details of the North's participation at February's Winter Games, the IOC said Wednesday.

"The participants will be a delegation from the PyeongChang 2018 Organising Committee and delegations from the (Olympic committees) of the Republic of Korea and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea), all led by their respective presidents, as well as high-ranking government officials and the IOC members in both countries," the IOC said.

"The meeting will have to take a series of essential decisions, including the number and names of athletes and officials from the NOC of the DPRK, since all the deadlines for registration have already passed.

Representative image. Reuters

Representative image. Reuters

"The IOC will also have to decide on the format of such participation, including questions related to the official protocol (flag, anthem, ceremonies, uniform, etc.)."

The news followed a meeting earlier Wednesday between Olympic chief Thomas Bach and North Korea's IOC member Chang Ung on the practicalities of sending athletes to Pyeongchang.

"I warmly welcome the joint proposals by the governments of the ROK and DPRK, which have been applauded by so many other governments worldwide," Bach said after the four-way meeting was announced.

"This is a great step forward in the Olympic spirit and in the spirit of the Olympic Truce Resolution passed by the General Assembly of the United Nations. Now the IOC must take the decisions to make this political commitment a reality."

The North and South held their first official dialogue in more than two years on Tuesday, the long-standing Korean rivals agreeing that Pyongyang — which boycotted the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul — would send a large delegation to the Games that are to be held between 9-25 February, and promising further high-level talks.

Bach and Chang's talks broached the question of whether the North Korean athletes would be housed in the Olympic village.

"It's an issue up for debate, but their presence in the Olympic village is not certain," a source close to the talks told AFP.

Only two athletes from the North, figure skaters Ryom Tae-ok and Kim Ju-sik, have so far qualified for the Games, but they were not registered before the 30 October deadline.

"We'll have to see with the International Skating Union (ISU), the International Ski Federation (FIS) and the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF)," the source said.

The IOC is working closely with the FIS and ISU to "see if North Korean athletes training overseas can take part in the Olympics", according to another source.

After consultation with the federations, the North Korean national Olympic committee will send the IOC a definitive list of the athletes it wants present in Pyeongchang, with the latter left with the task of issuing an official invitation.

Despite boycotting in 1988 and seeing no athletes qualifying for the Sochi Winter Olympics in Russia, North Korea had a presence at the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea, in 2014 and were also present at the 2016 Rio Olympics, finishing 34th in the medal table.

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Updated Date: Jan 11, 2018 10:04 AM

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