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North, South Korea Solidify Plans to March Together at Olympics

North, South Korea Solidify Plans to March Together at Olympics

The neighbours, which opened long-dormant communications to organise the North's participation, have agreed to field a united team in the women's ice hockey.

The officials are scheduled to spend two days inspecting art centers in Seoul and Gangneung city, which will also host several of the Olympic events.

The others are figure skating, short track speed skating, Alpine skiing and cross-country skiing.

IOC President Thomas Bach is chairing the four-party meeting at the IOC headquarters here.

The proposals from North and South Korea had to be approved by the IOC and Pyeongchang committee before they could go ahead.

The North Korean athletes will be handed quota places, a rarely-used form of wild card, to allow them to compete in ice skating, skiing and ice hockey.

Bach said Olympic organizers have been working since 2014 to reach an agreement for joint participation at the South Korea games.

"We have always done so with our belief that the Olympic Games are beyond all political tensions", he said.

Following the talks, the International Olympic Committee outlined details of how the 22 North Korean athletes will be accommodated in the Games, only weeks before they start.

Pyongyang said on Sunday it also plans to send another team of sports officials to inspect Olympic venues and accommodations from January 25-27, South Korea's unification ministry said.

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In the interests of fairness, only 22 players will be entitled to play in each match, in line with the other teams, it said.

Also, the two countries have never had a unified team in any sport at the Olympics before.

But the South Korean Unification Ministry announced an unprecedented range of joint activities between the countries for the Games following talks Wednesday at the Demilitarized Zone.

Seoul will also send skiers to the North's Masikryong ski resort for joint training with North Korean counterparts, and hold a joint cultural event in the scenic Mount Kumgang area north of the border, according to the deal.

The Samjiyon art troupe, which comprises orchestra members, singers and dancers, is part of North Korea's Olympic delegation that also includes athletes, officials, journalists and a taekwondo demonstration team.

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

Later Sunday, Hyon's advance team inspected a venue for her art troupe's performance in Gangneung.

"I do not exclude contacts with a delegation from Pyongyang on inter-MFA [Ministry of Foreign Affairs] channels in Moscow before the start of the Olympic Games", Morgulov said in an interview with Russia's state-run TASS news agency published Saturday.

The IOC said that Bach would make a further statement following Saturday's meeting. He said the recent talks between the two Koreas indicated that tensions would be reduced during the Winter Olympics.


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