LAUSANNE: Olympic chief Thomas Bach held talks with North Korea’s IOC member Chang Ung on Wednesday on the practicalities of sending athletes to next month’s Winter Olympics in the South.
The North and South held their first official dialogue in more than two years on Tuesday, the long-standing Korean rivals agreeing that Pyongyang — which boycotted the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul — would send a large delegation to the February 9-25 Games and promising further high-level talks.
Bach and Chang’s talks broached the question of whether the North Korean athletes would be housed in the Olympic village.“It’s an issue up for debate, but their presence in the Olympic village is not certain,” a source close to the talks told AFP.
Only two athletes from the North, figure skaters Ryom Tae-ok and Kim Ju-sik, have so far qualified for the Games, but they were not registered before the October 30 deadline.“We’ll have to see with the International Skating Union (ISU), the International Ski Federation (FIS) and the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF),” the source said.
The IOC is working closely with the FIS and ISU to “see if North Korean athletes training overseas can take part in the Olympics”, according to another source.After consultation with the federations, the North Korean national Olympic committee will send the IOC a definitive list of the athletes it wants present in Pyeongchang, with the latter left with the task of issuing an official invitation.
Despite boycotting in 1988 and seeing no athletes qualifying for the Sochi Winter Olympics in Russia, North Korea had a presence at the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea, in 2014 and were also present at the 2016 Rio Olympics, finishing 34th in the medal table.