North and South Korea to form joint Olympic team

The two Koreas have agreed during rare talks to form a combined women’s ice hockey team to take part in next month’s Winter Olympics in the South.

The team will march together under a unified peninsula flag at the opening ceremony, a joint statement released by Seoul’s unification ministry said.

North Korea will send a 550-member delegation, including 230 cheerleaders, 140 artists and 30 Taekwondo players for a demonstration, the ministry said.

The delegation is scheduled to begin arriving in South Korea on the 25th of January.

A North Korean delegation will visit the South next week to review the facilities at the games venue, Yonhap news agency reported.

South Korean delegates in Seoul before leaving for Panmunjom to attend talks on the North’s participation in the Winter Olympics.

South Korea also agreed to send its athletes to the North’s Masikryong ski resort for training ahead of the Pyeongchang Olympics that run through 5-25 February.

North Korea’s Olympic delegation will travel by land through Kaesong, which lies on the main road from Pyongyang to Seoul.

Seoul has long sought to proclaim the event a “peace Olympics” in the face of tension over the North’s weapons programmes, which have seen it subjected to multiple UN Security Council sanctions, and the discussions represent a marked improvement.

Three officials from each side took part and the results will be discussed by both Koreas with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Saturday.

The IOC must approve extra Olympic slots for the North’s athletes after they failed to qualify or missed deadlines to register.

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