Koreas could pa­rade at Pyeongchang

Pretoria News - - SPORT -

SEOUL: North and South Korean ath­letes could pa­rade to­gether at the open­ing cer­e­mony of next month’s Pyeongchang Win­ter Games, un­der a pro­posal the IOC will con­sider next week, a source said.

That op­tion, as well as a com­bined Korean women’s ice hockey team, are among sev­eral pro­pos­als the IOC will dis­cuss, a source within the Olympic move­ment told Reuters yes­ter­day.

The two coun­tries, tech­ni­cally still at war af­ter their 1950-53 con­flict ended with a truce, agreed on Tues­day that North Korea would send a large del­e­ga­tion across the bor­der to next month’s Games.

That deal was struck dur­ing their first of­fi­cial talks in more than two years, amid high ten­sions over the North’s weapons pro­gramme.

The IOC will host talks in Switzerland on 20 Jan­uary to dis­cuss de­tails about North Korea’s par­tic­i­pa­tion at the Games.

“These two things are be­ing talked about,” the source said when asked about a pos­si­ble joint pa­rade and ice hockey team.

The source could not say how likely they were to hap­pen. “All de­tails will be dis­cussed next week.”

Seoul pre­vi­ously pro­posed that the two coun­tries’ ath­letes march to­gether at the open­ing cer­e­mony, and said Py­ongyang had re­sponded pos­i­tively.

South and North Korea pa­raded to­gether at an in­ter­na­tional sport­ing event for the first time at the 2000 Syd­ney Olympics in Aus­tralia, but have not done so since the 2007 Asian Win­ter Games in China.

The two Koreas have com­peted as a sin­gle na­tion in ta­ble ten­nis and soc­cer, but have never at a multi-sports event.

“This is a very pos­i­tive start to the New Year for the global Olympic move­ment and for longterm peace on the Korean penin­sula,” said the Pres­i­dent of the Olympic Coun­cil of Asia (OCA), Sheikh Ah­mad Al Fa­had Al Sabah of this week’s talks.

“The OCA... looks for­ward to see­ing the flags of two of our mem­ber Na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tees fly­ing high to­gether at Pyeongchang 2018.”

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Don­ald Trump have waged a war of words in the past year, with the US Pres­i­dent warn­ing he would have no choice but to “to­tally de­stroy” North Korea if the United States was forced to de­fend it­self or its al­lies.

Trump said on Satur­day he would be will­ing to speak to Kim, though not with­out pre-con­di­tions.

On Mon­day, the IOC ex­tended the dead­line for North Korean ath­letes to reg­is­ter for the Games. So far only a fig­ure skat­ing pair has se­cured a spot, though sev­eral other ath­letes could qual­ify through spe­cial places of­fered by the Olympic body.

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