Hundreds of North Koreans likely to attend Winter Olympics

By Jennie Oh  |  Jan. 10, 2018 at 6:50 AM
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SEOUL, South Korea, Jan. 10 (UPI) -- North Korea is will likely send hundreds of sporting representatives to the Pyeongchang Olympics next month, according to the South Korean Prime Minister.

Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon said Wednesday that the North is set to dispatch its largest-ever delegation to a global sporting competition, based on Pyongyang officials' remarks made during a high-level dialogue with Seoul.

During the inter-Korean meeting Tuesday, North Korea said it would send Olympic representatives, athletes, a cheering squad as well as reporters and high-level officials to Pyeongchang. Lee estimated that this would amount to roughly 400 to 500 visitors from the North, Maeil Business Daily reported.

He noted that the North had sent 650 people to the 2002 Asian Games held in South Korea's southern port city of Busan and roughly 500 to the Daegu Summer Universiade in 2003.

North Korea has not yet put a number on the scale of its delegation. It agreed to fine-tune the arrangements with Seoul through faxed documents and phone conversations.

On Wednesday, the International Olympic Committee welcomed the North's decision to send its athletes to the Winter Games, hailing the move a "great step forward in the Olympic spirit."

IOC President Thomas Bach said in a statement the IOC will wait for the official reports and proposals from the inter-Korean talks held Tuesday.

"The IOC will then discuss these proposals in particular as far as the participation, the number and names of athletes, and the format of their participation (flag, anthem, ceremonies, etc.) are concerned," he said.

Bach is expected to meet North Korea's Olympic representative Chang Ung on Wednesday at the IOC headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland, to discuss which categories North Korean athletes can take part in through their wild-card entry.

Topics: North Korea
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