IOC, two Koreas meet to finalise historic Olympic deal

Posted January 22, 2018

North Korea will send 22 athletes to compete in three sports at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Games in South Korea, the International Olympic Committee, or IOC, said Saturday.

The International Olympic Committee held a meeting at their headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Saturday, after which they revealed North Korea would indeed participate in the Games.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who views the Pyeongchang Games as an opportunity to improve relations following a year of tension over 's nuclear weapons program, said the unified team would provide a "historically grand moment" once it appears on ice.

Several South Korean officials greeted the North Koreans at the customs, immigration and quarantine (CIQ) office at Dorasan Station, just south of the border.

Paik Hak-soon, the director of the Center for North Korean studies at Sejong Institute in South Korea, said North Korea was using the cheering squad to draw attention to its apparent cooperative spirit.

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An Olympic deal became possible after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said in a New Year's speech that a team could cross the border to compete.

Though the exact makeup of the Samjiyon band is not released by North Korean reports, it is thought to be heavily influenced by the all-female Moranbong band.

The two nations also agreed to march together at an opening ceremony under a unification flag - a pale blue silhouette of the Korean peninsula - and to form a joint women's ice hockey team.

The roster will include 12 players from the north and 23 from the south.

The unified women's ice hockey team will be represented by the Korean Unification Flag and compete as Korea, with the anthem being the song "Arirang". All three athletes will compete in both the Giant Slalom and Slalom events.

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The two Koreas chose to march under a single flag at the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics to be held in South Korea later this year.

North Korea will also send: two figure skaters to compete in the pairs competition; two male speed skaters; two men and one women in cross-country skiing distance events; two men and one woman in Alpine skiing's slalom and giant slalom races.

The group perform a mix of pop and rock music that has been labelled as North Korea's version of the Spice Girls.

But Moon's critics, including much of South Korea's generally conservative media, have argued that the North will use the Olympics as a propaganda opportunity, to try to weaken worldwide resolve over enforcing sanctions against the North for its nuclear programme.

In addition, an art troupe, a 30-strong North Korean taekwondo demonstration team and press corps will travel south, South Korean Unification Ministry spokesman Chun Hae-sung told reporters in Seoul.

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