International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach poses with the National Olympic Committee of the Republic of Korea, the NOC of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, after a meeting at the IOC headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland. Photograph:( Reuters )
North Korea will send 22 athletes to the Winter Games in the neighbouring South next month and compete in three sports and five disciplines, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said on Saturday.
The IOC said in a statement that the North and South had agreed to march under a single flag at the opening ceremony and would field a united team in the women’s ice hockey, confirming earlier reports. The North will also send 24 officials and 21 media representatives.
North Korea’s planned involvement in Pyeongchang is viewed as a sign of easing tensions over its nuclear and missile programme.
The IOC said that the United Korean delegation would be led into the Olympic Stadium for the opening ceremony under the Korean Unification Flag which would be carried by two athletes, one from each country.
The three sports in which North Korea will compete are ice skating and skiing in addition to women’s ice hockey, the IOC said.
Until Saturday, a figure skating pair were the only North Koreans to have secured a spot at the Games.
”Today marks the milestone on a long journey,“ said IOC president Thomas Bach in a prepared declaration. ”Since 2014, the IOC has addressed the special situation of having the Olympic Winter Games on the Korean peninsula.
“Such an agreement would have seemed impossible only a few weeks ago,” he added. “The Olympic Winter Games are hopefully opening the door to a brighter future on the Korean peninsula.”