The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has said it will stage a meeting on January 20 to determine the exact nature of North Korea’s participation at the 2018 winter Olympic Games.
The IOC’s announcement comes after South Korean officials on Tuesday said a North Korean delegation will attend the 2018 Games in Pyeongchang as landmark talks between the two countries commenced.
South Korea’s Vice-Unification Minister Chun Hae-sung said North Korea offered to send a delegation consisting of high-ranking officials, athletes, cheering and performing art squads, taekwondo demonstration teams and journalists.
In return, South Korea proposed the two countries march together during the opening and closing ceremonies. The South has offered to hold a Red Cross meeting in February to discuss the reunion of families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War, along with military talks designed to prevent “accidental conflict” along the border.
In order to decide on the proposals, the IOC said it will convene a four-party meeting at its headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland. The participants will be a delegation from the Pyeongchang 2018 Organising Committee and delegations from South Korea and North Korea’s National Olympic Committees, all led by their respective presidents, as well as high-ranking government officials and the IOC members in both countries. The meeting will be chaired by IOC president Thomas Bach.
The IOC said the meeting will take a series of “essential decisions”, including the number and names of athletes and officials from North Korea, since all the deadlines for registration have already passed. The IOC will also have to decide on the format of such participation, including questions related to the official protocol, which includes flag, anthem, ceremonies and uniform.
On Monday, the IOC made further efforts to encourage North Korea’s participation at the 2018 Games by extending the registration deadline for athletes from the country. At this moment in time, only two North Korean athletes have qualified for Pyeongchang 2018 in the form of figure skating pair Ryom Tae Ok and Kim Ju Sik.
However, North Korea did not confirm their participation by an October deadline meaning that their entry slot went to Japan. It has been reported that North Korea could be handed wild card slots for the Games with most sports having already completed their qualifying events.
“I warmly welcome the joint proposals by the governments of the ROK and DPRK, which have been applauded by so many other governments worldwide,” Bach (pictured) said. “This is a great step forward in the Olympic spirit and in the spirit of the Olympic Truce Resolution passed by the General Assembly of the United Nations. Now the IOC must take the decisions to make this political commitment a reality.”