January 20, 2018 / 10:08 AM / a year ago

Olympics-Talks under way to finalise North Korea participation

LAUSANNE, Jan 20 (Reuters) - Talks began at the International Olympic Committee (IOC) headquarters on Saturday to finalise details on North Korea’s participation at the Winter Olympics in the neighbouring South next month.

North Korea’s possible involvement in Pyeongchang is seen by some as a sign of easing tensions over Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programme.

The IOC said that Saturday’s meeting, which includes Olympic officials from both countries, would take a series of “essential decisions” on the North’s participation at the Games that open on Feb. 9.

These would include the number and names of athletes and officials from the North Korean Olympic Committee, as deadlines had already passed, the IOC added.

The IOC will also be tasked with deciding on questions of protocol, including flags, ceremonies and uniform.

Currently, a figure skating pair are the only North Koreans to have secured a spot at the Games, although several other athletes could qualify through special places offered by the Olympic body.

“The Olympic Winter Games Pyeongchang 2018 have opened the door for peaceful dialogue on the Korean peninsula. Our meeting today shows that Olympic sport always builds bridges,” IOC President Thomas Bach told reporters before the meeting.

The IOC said that Bach would make a further statement following Saturday’s meeting. (Writing by Brian Homewood; Editing by John O’Brien)

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