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Q & A North Korea at the Olympics? The most important facts

Europe, Europa
19.01.2018
By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Will North Korea take part in the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang? And if yes, in which form? There are many questions to answer before an IOC meeting on Saturday in Lausanne.

Berlin (dpa) - Just 20 days before the Olympics begins in Pyeongchang, South Korea, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will discuss the participation of North Korea at a meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Saturday.

The Koreas intend to march together during the opening ceremony on February 9 and submit a combined women‘s ice hockey team.

Here are the most important questions surrounding the the delegation North Korea could send.

What is the background for North Korea‘s change of heart regarding Olympic participation?

North Korea‘s ruler Kim Jong Un surprisingly offered to send a delegation to Pyeongchang in his new year speech. Observers in South Korea immediately wondered if Kim was serious or using a tactic.

That uncertainty remains and conservative commentators suspect he may try to liberate his country from the pressure of sanctions and a drive wedge between South Korea and its ally, the United States.

What is the host‘s hope for North Korean participation?

In addition to a trouble-free Games, South Korea wants to create the basis for a lasting decrease in tension on the Korean peninsula. Sport as a means of diplomacy has always played a role in inter-Korean relations having been the easiest way demonstrate peace and reconciliation.

Why has the IOC kept the door open for North Korea so long?

With the participation of North Korea, the IOC would finally have something positive to report after negative headlines in the wake of the Russian doping scandal and corruption allegations. For example, the two Koreas marching together at the opening ceremony would underline the Olympic idea of ??understanding between nations and do a little to polish the image of the IOC.

The security debates would also be greatly eased if a delegation from the North took part in the Games. A possible distortion of competition seems unlikely as their athletes are unlikely to challenge for medals.

What decisions must the IOC reach?

Firstly, which athletes from North Korea can participate and their delegation. Then the question turns to flag, national anthem and uniforms. It is also debatable where the North Korean delegation will be housed as it is unlikely North Korean athletes would live in the Olympic Village.

How many athletes could be included in the North Korean delegation?

The only North Koreans with the required qualifying standard are figure skaters Ryom Tae Ok and Kim Ju Sik but they missed the deadline to enter. However, the pair are the first candidates to whom the IOC could give a wildcard. The chance for a combined women‘s ice hockey team is also positive.

The chairman of the local organizing committee, Lee Hee Beom, hinted that North Korea would also like to send athletes in alpine and cross-country skiing. Most recently, the idea of a joint bobsleigh team to test the track was suggested by the ruling body IBSF.

What problems could occur?

A combined ice hockey team is certainly symbolic but sportingly not so easy - athletes from North and South Korea have never played together. Additionally, North Korea has largely sealed off its athletes which would not be possible at the Olympics with regard to doping controls, press conferences etc.

What United Nations sanctions do the North Koreans need to consider?

The IOC emphasized that it did not want to violate UN sanctions when deciding on the participation of North Korea. The sanctions of the UN Security Council revolve mainly around areas such as trade and financial services that could serve Pyongyang‘s nuclear and weapons programs.

The delegation at the Winter Games should hardly be relevant to that. However, some individuals are subject to travel bans and according to the sanctions are not allowed to leave North Korea though exceptions may be granted. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres expressed "full confidence in South Korea" that the North Koreans would be adequately transported and accommodated, while respecting existing sanctions.

 

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