22 Athletes From N. Korea Will Attend Winter Olympics

22 Athletes From N. Korea Will Attend Winter Olympics22 Athletes From N. Korea Will Attend Winter Olympics

North Korea will send 22 athletes to the Winter Games in the neighboring country South Korea next month and compete in three sports and five disciplines, the International Olympic Committee said on Saturday.

The North and South had agreed to march under a single flag at the opening ceremony and would field a united team in the women’s ice hockey. The North will send 24 officials and 21 media representatives as well, Reuters reported.

The IOC said the united Korean delegation would be led into the Olympic Stadium for the opening ceremony under the Korean Unification Flag which would be carried by two athletes, one from each country.

Separately, South Korea’s Unification Ministry said North Korea would send a delegation to the country on Sunday to prepare for a trip by an art troupe during the games, pushing the visit back a day after earlier cancelling it.

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.

Until Saturday, a figure skating pair was the only North Koreans to have secured a spot at the games through the conventional qualifying competition, although they lost their place after failing to register.

They were therefore handed one quota place while two male North Korean competitors were given places in the short track speed skating.

Three North Koreans will compete in the cross-country skiing and another three in the Alpine skiing slalom and giant slalom events.

Twelve players would be added to the existing South Korean women’s ice hockey squad of 23. At least three North Korean players would be selected for each match.

“Today marks the milestone on a long journey,” said IOC President Thomas Bach in a prepared declaration. “Since 2014, the IOC has addressed the special situation of having the Olympic Winter Games on the Korean peninsula. Such an agreement would have seemed impossible only a few weeks ago. The Olympic Winter Games are hopefully opening the door to a brighter future on the Korean peninsula,” he added.

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