North and South Korea Agree To Form Joint Olympic Korean Team
In a dramatic shift towards the spirit of reunification, North and South Korea agree to form one joint Olympic Korean Team.
North and South Korea agreed Wednesday to form their first unified Olympic Team. Athletes from both countries will parade together under a joint flag during the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in South Korea next month.
The nations have also agreed to form a joint North and South Korean’s women’s ice hockey team for the games which will be held in Pyeongchang.
The unification ministry announced that there would be a range of joint activities between the countries after talks took place on Wednesday at the demilitarized zone (DMZ).
North Korea will send around 230 supporters to cheer its athletes while a smaller delegation of athletes and supporters will attend the Paralympics.
The Korean unification flag features a blue silhouette of the peninsula and outlying islands. During rare shows of unity, the countries have previously jointly marched under the flag before, first at the 1991 Table Tennis Championships and most recently at the 2006 Winter games in Turin, Italy.
The international Olympic Committee (IOC) still needs to approve the agreements which have been made between the nations.
The committee released a statement on Wednesday:
“We are sure that the two Korean delegations will present their ideas and proposals at the meeting on Saturday in Lausanne. This will then enable the IOC to carefully evaluate the consequences and the potential impact on the Olympic Games and the Olympic competitions,” it said in a statement.
The announcement marks a breakthrough in diplomatic relations between the two nations following years and years of disagreements.
The two nations have earned praise during recent weeks for easing on military tensions.
Some skeptics doubt the motives behind North Korea’s recent openness to talks with South Korea. Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono called on the international community to be clear-minded about assessing North Korea’s motivation for participating in the talks.
“I believe that North Korea wants to buy some time to continue their nuclear and missile programs,” Kono said at the meeting. “It’s not the time to ease pressure towards North Korea.”