Published: Mon, January 22, 2018
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

North Korea to send 22 athletes to Winter Games

North Korea to send 22 athletes to Winter Games

At the opening ceremony, the joint delegation "will be led into the Olympic stadium by the Korean unification flag" carried together by an athlete from each country, the IOC said.

North Korea was expected to send an advance team led by the head of North Korea's most popular propaganda pop band to the South for the weekend to hammer out the details for performances during the Olympics, but the North canceled at the last minute without providing a reason.

South Koreans seem generally happy they'll see the North Koreans at their Olympics, but aren't as pleased about sharing a team with them.

Pyongyang said the remarks it took issue with were in the vein of "the USA desperately trying to reverse the trend of detente and improvement of inter-Korean relations", seemingly referring to the breakthrough surrounding the Winter Olympics, according to a statement from North Korea's Permanent Mission to the UN. The 2018 Winter Olympics have provided an opportunity that should help the cause and bring peace to the Korean peninsula.

Protocol around Korean anthems and team uniforms to use at the February 9-25 games must also be resolved.

Following the talks, the International Olympic Committee outlined details of how the 22 North Korean athletes will be accommodated in the Games, only weeks before they start.

But a poll released Thursday suggests that half of South Koreans oppose a joint flag.

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South Korean police intervened when one group of protesters burned a picture of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on the steps of Seoul's central train station where a delegation from the North had arrived earlier.

Places for two short-track speed skaters, three cross-country skiers, and three Alpine skiers have been added for the competitions at Pyeongchang.

Many South Koreans believe their government went too far by pushing athletes into a "political show" that will likely become meaningless once the lull in tensions breaks down after the Olympics.

The IOC will grant accreditations to the NOC of the DPRK for 22 athletes, 24 officials and 21 media representatives.

The officials are scheduled to spend two days inspecting art centres in Seoul and Gangneung city, which will also host several of the Olympic events. Only 22 players will be allowed to participate in any game, however, and at least three players from each national Olympic committee must be present at each game.

North Korea's involvement comes after months of tension over its nuclear and ballistic missile programme.

The actual team of North Korean athletes taking part could be in single figures. At least three must be North Korean, the International Olympic Committee said.

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