IOC to convene Olympic participation meeting with North, South Korea
Number of North Korean athletes, issues over flags and anthems to be discussed
The International Olympic Committee announced that it will host a meeting on Jan. 20 with North and South Korean representatives to decide on key issues regarding North Korea's participation at the upcoming Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
"I warmly welcome the joint proposals by the governments of [South Korea and North Korea], which have been applauded by so many other governments worldwide," IOC president Thomas Bach, who will chair the meeting, said in a release. A delegation from this year's Olympic organizing committee will also attend the meeting.
"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."
Among the issues to be sorted out is the number of athletes and officials from North Korea who will attend the Olympics from Feb. 9-25, which is complicated by the fact that the deadlines for registration have already passed.
Figure skating pairs team Ryom Tae-Ok and Kim Ju-Sik, who trained in Montreal with Canadian coach Bruno Marcotte last summer, are the only two confirmed North Korean athletes heading to the Games so far.
The two Koreas and the IOC also face some thorny issues of protocol as flags, anthems and the opening ceremony will all require delicate negotiation.
At the Games themselves, any slip-up could spark a diplomatic incident. The North Korean women's soccer team walked off the field at the 2012 Olympics when the South Korean flag was mistakenly shown in a pre-game video package.
North and South Korean athletes have marched together at some previous Olympics during periods of warmer relations between the two governments, and South Korea has suggested a repeat in Pyeongchang. If they march separately, the South Korean team would massively outnumber the North Koreans.
With files from The Associated Press