IOC says it’s ‘open’ to North joining Games

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IOC says it’s ‘open’ to North joining Games

Mark Adams, the director of communications for the International Olympic Committee (IOC), said the IOC will consider “in an open way” North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s remarks about possibly sending a delegation to the PyeongChang Winter Olympics.

“We continue our close cooperation with the Organizing Committee for the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018, with the South Korean government and the National Olympic Committee of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,” Adams said in an exclusive email interview with the JoongAng Ilbo on Tuesday.

“In this context, we will consider the comments of the North Korean leadership with regard to participation in the Olympic Winter Games in an open way.”

Adams did not specify whether the North Korean team will be able to use wild-card slots to compete in the Olympics. North Korean figure skating duo Ryom Tae-ok and Kim Ju-sik qualified for the PyeongChang Winter Olympics in early October. The deadline for the North to confirm participation of the team at the Olympics was Oct. 30.

Adams added that his comments did not reflect the position of IOC President Thomas Bach. Bach reportedly met with North Korea’s Olympic Committee President Kim Il-guk at the committee’s headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland, in early December, but the meeting’s results were not disclosed.

The PyeongChang Winter Olympics will be held from Feb. 9 to 25 in South Korea’s northeastern Pyeongchang and Jeongseon counties and the city of Gangneung, just several miles from the heavily fortified inter-Korean border.

Bach has repeatedly said that the Olympic Games will be held in Gangwon as a symbol of peace on the Peninsula.

He said in a New Year’s address on Monday, “We know about the political tensions on the Korean Peninsula. The IOC has addressed them already since 2015. In all these discussions, the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 were never put in doubt.

“On the contrary, we feel support for our position that the Olympic Games must always be beyond all political division,” Bach said. “The Olympic Games are about dialogue. They are a symbol of hope and peace. In our troubled times, they are the only event that bring the whole world together in peaceful competition. To ensure this for the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018, we keep monitoring the situation very closely.”

The Blue House welcomed the North Korean leader’s overture in an official statement Monday.

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