North Korea will send 22 athletes to next month's Winter Games in South Korea, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said yesterday, approving a landmark deal between two nations still officially at war.
North Korean delegates arrived in Seoul on Sunday on their way to inspect venues and prepare cultural performances for next month's Winter Olympics, in the first visit by Pyongyang officials to the South for four years. While South Korea hopes to use the games to improve relations with its rival after a year of animosity over North Korea's rapidly expanding nuclear program, some experts view Kim's overture as an attempt to weaken us -led global sanctions against the North and buy time to further advance his nuclear weapons program.
The IOC has approved that delegations from the two countries be marching together as one under the name "Korea" at the Opening Ceremony and led into the Olympic Stadium by the Korean Unification Flag, carried by two athletes from the two NOCs respectively.
But the DPRK's presence in Pyeongchang, just 80 kilometers south of the demilitarized zone that divides north and south, will prove historic, as it will be the first time the two Koreas compete as one.
Hong Joon-pyo, leader of South Korea's main conservative opposition party, said: "We are turning the Pyeongchang Olympics that we've got into the Pyongyang Olympics".
A pair of North Korean figure skaters qualified for this year's Olympics, but the country missed a deadline to confirm their participation. The North Korean athletes will travel to PyeongChang on February 1st via rail.
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Hyon was the subject of lurid 2013 reports in the South that she and around a dozen other state musicians had been executed for appearing in porn movies.
Two extra places in short-track speed skating are being given to North Korea, allowing Jong Kwang-Bom to compete at 1500m and Choe Un-Song to take part in the 500m. In the aftermath, the two sides announced the Samjiyon Orchestra will perform in the South during the Olympics.
Local media showed the North Korean delegation crossing the heavily-fortified border on a bus before arriving in the South Korean capital, Seoul.
The new proposal came less than 24 hours after North Korea canceled the delegation's visit. With respect to fair play and the other competing teams, only 22 players will be entitled to play in each game, as is the rule for all participating teams.
The White House says the joint Olympic team is an opportunity for North Korea to see the value of ending its global isolation by getting rid of its nuclear weapons.