Possible joint Koreas parade at Pyeongchang under discussion: source


(Reuters) – North and South Korean athletes could parade together at the opening ceremony of next month’s Pyeongchang Winter Games, under a proposal the International Olympic Committee will consider next week, a source said.

That option, as well as a combined Korean women’s ice hockey team, are among several proposals the IOC will discuss, the source within the Olympic movement told Reuters on Thursday.

The two countries, technically still at war after their 1950-53 conflict ended with a truce, agreed on Tuesday that North Korea would send a large delegation across the border to next month’s Games.

That deal was struck during their first official talks in more than two years amid high tensions over the North’s weapons program.

The IOC will host talks in Switzerland on Jan. 20 to discuss details about North Korea’s participation at the Games.

“These two things are being talked about,” the source said when asked about a possible joint parade and ice hockey team.

The source could not say how likely they were to happen. “All details will be discussed next week.”

Seoul previously proposed that the two countries’ athletes march together at the opening ceremony, and said Pyongyang had responded positively.

South and North Korea paraded together at an international sporting event for the first time at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, but have not done so since the 2007 Asian Winter Games in China.

The two Koreas have competed as a single nation in table tennis and soccer but have never at a multi-sports event.

“This is a very positive start to the New Year for the global Olympic movement and for long-term peace on the Korean peninsula,” said the President of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), Sheikh Ahmad Al Fahad Al Sabah of this week’s talks.

“The OCA …looks forward to seeing the flags of two of our member National Olympic Committees flying high together at Pyeongchang 2018.”

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump have waged a war of words in the past year, with the U.S. President warning he would have no choice but to “totally destroy” North Korea if America was forced to defend itself or its allies.

Trump said on Saturday he would be willing to speak to Kim, though not without pre-conditions.

On Monday, the IOC extended the deadline for North Korean athletes to register for the Games. So far only a figure skating pair has secured a spot, though several other athletes could qualify through special places offered by the Olympic body.

Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; editing by John Stonestreet

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