North Korea to send 22 athletes to Winter Games

A South Korean army soldier stands guard behind a poster showing the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympic mascot at the Unification Observation post in Goseong near the border with North Korea South Korea Friday Jan. 19 2018

Multiple polls in South Korea show that over 70 percent of respondents say they oppose fielding a joint Korean women's hockey team at the PyeongChang Games.

"The Olympic spirit is about respect, dialogue and understanding", said IOC president Thomas Bach, according to the BBC. The other North Korean athletes will compete in figure skating, Alpine skiing, cross-country skiing and short track speed skating.

The 22 North Korean athletes will march together with South Korean players under a single "unification flag" depicting their peninsula during the opening ceremony in Pyeongchang.

In the first of a series of preparatory visits, North Korean music and arts officials have arrived in South Korea to inspect sites for performances during the Olympics.

Unified Women's Ice Hockey Team: The IOC has chose to allow the two National Olympic Committees, for the first time in their Olympic history, to form a unified team in a sport.

Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon came under fire when he said South Korea's women's ice hockey team is out of medal contention. The Koreas previously marched together at the Opening Ceremonies in 2000, 2004 and 2006.

However, others fear that South Korea has fallen for a North Korean charm offensive and warned the global community not to be complacent. "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.




Prior to the Games, the sides will carry out joint training for skiers at the North's Masik Pass resort and a cultural event at the Mount Kumgang resort, for which Seoul officials plan to visit the sites next week.

North and South Korea have been talking since last week - for the first time in more than two years - about the Olympics, offering a respite from a months-long standoff over Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programs, although Japan urged caution over the North's "charm offensive".

"The Olympic Games are always about building bridges, they never erect walls". There are apparently few objections to the North Korean presence at itself, which likely ensures that the country holds off any significant weapons test or other aggressive acts that would risk disrupting the games.

A delegation of 150 North Korean athletes and supporters will attend the Paralympics, Seoul's Unification Ministry said.

North Korea has no medal contenders. He said the recent talks between the two Koreas indicated that tensions would be reduced during the Winter Olympics.

“The participation of a united Korean team is a good idea politically and diplomatically, but when it comes to fairness in sport it raises some questions, ” Swiss ice hockey federation spokesman Janos Kick told AFP.

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