Wednesday, 23 May, 2018

Koreas agree to form united Olympic team

South Korean soldiers stand as vehicles carrying the South Korean delegation pass at Unification Bridge which leads to the Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone in Paju South Korea Wednesday Jan. 17 2018. South Korean delegation departed for Panmunjom Koreas agree to form united Olympic team
Ellis Copeland | 19 January, 2018, 02:12

North and South Korea will march under one flag as their first joint Olympic team ompetes in the winter games next month.

On Monday, the two Koreas agreed that a 140-member North Korean art troupe comprising orchestra members, singers and dancers would perform in the South during the Games.

South and North Korean delegations marched together at the opening ceremony of the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

The two countries' players will walk at the opening ceremony following a "unified Korea" flag that confers a single Korean Peninsula, mediators from both parties announced in a common news statement following reports at the border village of Panmunjom. That's rare, but not unprecedented.

The delegation will include a 230-member cheering group, a 30-member taekwondo demonstration team, journalists, athletes and officials, the statement said.

North Korea is pursuing its missile and nuclear programmes in defiance of the United Nations security council and other sanctions and regularly threatens to destroy the United States and its two key Asian allies, South Korea and Japan.

The International Olympic Committee will take a more high-profile role this Saturday, when IOC President Thomas Bach welcomes all three delegations.

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The two countries have also agreed to field a joint team for the sport of women's ice hockey.

The news comes after the first major talks between North Korea and South Korea in two years, which began earlier this month amid soaring tensions between the United States, its ally South Korea, and North Korea.

South Korean athletes have expressed worries about losing their places due to a merger with the North Korean hockey team, which is not now strong enough to qualify for the Olympics.

The Pyeongchang Winter Olympics will be the first time in 11 years that the Unification flag will be used at an official sporting event.

They will begin arriving in South Korea on 25 January.

"If the South and North form a united team and participate in the Olympic games, I think it will become a historic moment". North Korea had altogether boycotted Seoul 1988, the only previous Olympics on the divided peninsula.

Trump also expressed doubt that holding direct talks with North Korea's leader Kim Jong-Un would be useful. South Korean families separated during the Korean war often visit the DMZ to offer prayers for their relatives in the North, on the occasion of the Lunar New Year. "I'm not sure that talks will lead to anything meaningful".

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