DPRK Delegation Arrives in South Korea to Inspect Olympic Venues

South Korea ice hockey team

IOC President Thomas Bach confirmed that the two nations would march together at the opening ceremony on February 9.

"This team will enter the Olympic Stadium under the Korean unification flag".

There is precedent for fielding a joint team in global competition, including at the 1991 football under-20 World Cup, when the two Koreas competed together and even advanced to the quarter finals.

In South Korea, it was felt a unified 23-member team would prevent deserving South Korean skaters from participating.

North Korea has still not disclosed the reason as to why it is not sending the advance team, the official said on Saturday.

In a diplomatic breakthrough after a year of escalating tension over the North's nuclear and missile programmes, the International Olympic Committee announced yesterday that North Korea will send 22 athletes to the Winter Games and compete in three sports and five disciplines.

North Korean Hyon Song Wol, head of North Korea's art troupe, walks onto a train before leaving for Gangneung at the Seoul Train Station in Seoul, South Korea, Sunday, Jan. 21, 2018.

North Korea's unexpected participation, negotiated in talks at the heavily fortified border between the two nations since the start of the year, has been hailed as a diplomatic breakthrough that could herald peace on the Korean Peninsula.

The North Korean delegation's arrival came a day later than originally planned by the two Koreas.

All parties signed the Olympic Korean Peninsula Declaration after the meeting, which finalizes the necessary details of the DPRK's participation in the games.

"Such an agreement would have seemed impossible only a few weeks ago", Bach said.

He went on to say: "The Olympic Games show us what the world could look like, if we were all guided by the Olympic spirit of respect and understanding".

"Today marks a milestone on a long journey", International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach said.

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.

In the interests of fairness, only 22 players will be entitled to play in each match, in line with the other teams, it said. Three North Koreans will compete in the cross-country skiing and another three in the Alpine skiing slalom and giant slalom events.

Figure skating pair Ryom Tae-ok and Kim Ju-sik qualified in September, but the North missed the October 30 deadline to register them. "The IOC today has taken exceptional decisions and has allocated additional quota for 22 athletes from the NOC of the DPRK, who will compete in three sports and five disciplines in Pyeongchang", Bach said. The two countries have held working-level talks since.

The North will separately send a 150-strong delegation to the Paralympics, Chun said.

North Korea has no medal contenders.

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