The participation of North Korea in the Olympic Games will be decided on January 20 at the IOC
The IOC president, Thomas Bach, speaks during a press conference after a meeting of the executive, on December 6, 2017 in Lausanne (Switzerland)
How many North Korean athletes will be present at the Games-2018 and in what sports? Will they stay at the Olympic Village? The first unknowns will be resolved on January 20, after a meeting between North Korea, South Korea, the IOC and the organizers of Pyeongchang-2018 in Lausanne.
“The IOC will have a four-party meeting on Saturday, January 20, at the IOC headquarters,” the Olympic body said in a statement on Wednesday.
The presidents of the North Korean and South Korean Olympic committees, and the Pyeongchang-2018 organizing committee, as well as officials of the governments of those two countries, and members of the IOC of both States will be present at the meeting, led by the IOC president , the German Thomas Bach.
Bach himself, and the only North Korean member of the body, Chang Ung, met Wednesday at the IOC headquarters in Lausanne, a day after the decision to send athletes from North Korea to the next Olympic Winter Games in Korea from the south.
At the end of the exceptional meeting that took place on Tuesday between the diplomatic delegations of two States of the Korean Peninsula, both countries agreed that North Korea would send a delegation to the Pyeongchang Winter Games from February 9 to 25, 80 kilometers from the North Korean border.
In addition to questions regarding the number and identity of the athletes authorized to attend Pyeongchang, “the IOC must also decide on the format of that participation, in relation to the official protocol (flag, anthem, ceremony, dress, etc.)” , specified the IOC.
Among the pending issues to settle, the accommodation of North Korean athletes in the Olympic village. “It’s a question to talk about, but his presence in the Olympic village is not safe,” the source told the AFP.
Last week, even before the officialization of North Korea’s participation in the Winter Games, the governor of the South Korean province that will host the Games had offered to charter a cruise to host members (athletes, officials, coaches, fans …) of an eventual delegation from North Korea.
– Only one classified pair –
To date, only the North Korean figure skating couple formed by Ryom Tae-ok and Kim Ju-sik, sealed the qualification for the Games, but North Korea missed the deadline for registration (October 30).
“We have to do with the International Skating Federation (ISU), with the International Ski Federation (FIS), and with the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF), if there are options,” the AFP added. case.
The IOC is in “close” contact with the FIS and the ISU “to see if North Korean athletes training abroad could participate in the Pyeongchang Games,” another IOC source explained.
The participation of the North Korean women’s ice hockey team is not excluded, as well as that of skiers and speed skaters.
The North Korean Olympic National Committee will transmit to the IOC a list of the selected athletes, and it will be the international Olympic body that will make the final decision on their invitation.
– A joint ticket? –
In 2014, no North Korean athlete achieved the minimum mark to attend the Sochi Winter Games in Russia.
The North boycotted the Seoul Summer Olympics-1988 and refused to participate in the qualifiers for the 2002 World Cup, which South Korea co-organized with Japan. Although it did send representation to the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, near Seoul.
The North Korean delegation in the recent Games of Rio was composed of 31 athletes, who won 7 medals, two of them gold, to place the country in the 34th place in the medal table.
The IOC repeated this week that it would be “as flexible as possible” regarding the participation of North Korean athletes in the Pyeongchang meeting.
It remains to be determined if the representatives of the two countries will make a joint entry into the opening and closing ceremonies, such as in Sydney 2000, Athens-2004 and Turin-2006.
“The North Korean side will send a delegation from the national Olympic committee, athletes, cheerleaders, artists, a Taekwondo exhibition set and a press service,” the two countries announced on Tuesday after their first meeting in two years.