September 4, 2013 / 6:02 AM / 4 years ago

Olympics-Pyeongchang rejects N.Korea proposal to co-host 2018 Games

SEOUL, Sept 4 (Reuters) - The organising committee for the
2018 Winter Games in South Korea's Pyeongchang (POCOG) has
poured cold water on North Korea's suggestion that it could
co-host some of the Olympic skiing events at its Masik resort.
    North Korea's International Olympic Committee (IOC) member
Chang Ung hinted on Tuesday that the North was willing to host
events at the resort in Wonsan, Gangwon province.
    However, POCOG responded on Wednesday by saying that holding
events hundreds of kilometres away from the host city was
unrealistic and would breach IOC regulations.
    The two Koreas have only resumed dialogue in recent weeks
after months of tensions earlier this year appeared to take
their frayed ties to the brink of war as Pyongyang threatened
missile and nuclear attacks against the South and its ally the
United States.
    The United States fought on the side of the South in the
1950-53 Korean War, which ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.
    "Co-hosting goes against International Olympic Committee
regulations which stipulate that, unlike the World Cup, all the
Olympic events be held within the host city," the committee said
in a news release on Wednesday. 
    "We should make sure technology and administrative works are
 in optimal condition in order to host an event- and
athlete-oriented Olympic Games. Holding some of the events in
the Masik resort, more than 300 kilometres away from
Pyeongchang, cannot guarantee meeting this goal," the committee
    IOC Chairman Jacques Rogge has previously expressed
opposition to co-hosting events with North Korea, saying in 2011
that the IOC would consider allowing the two Koreas to march
together at the 2018 opening ceremony but not to share events.
    "As far as spreading venues between the two countries, that
is something we do not consider under the current Olympic
Charter," said Rogge. 
    On Tuesday, North Korea's Chang told U.S. funded broadcaster
Voice of America that the Masik resort could possibly hold 2018
events if an agreement could be reached. 
    "When construction is complete, it (Masik) can be used in an
international event and possibly in the Olympic Games," Chang
was quoted as saying in the telephone interview.
    He acknowledged, however, that it was not a simple decision
to make and that there would have to be complex discussions
among several bodies such as the IOC and International Ski
Federation to assess the possibility.
    Last month, Switzerland banned the sale to North Korea of
equipment for the luxury ski resort planned for the ruling elite
in the impoverished state that is under U.N. sanctions.
    The North approached several Swiss companies to provide
chair lifts and cable cars worth 7 million Swiss francs ($7.57
million) for its sprawling Masik resort, the Geneva daily Le
Temps reported on Aug. 19.
    But the Swiss government, contacted by the companies for
clearance, added luxury sporting equipment to its list of goods
banned under United Nations sanctions, Marie Avet of the State
Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), said.
    "The Federal Council decided on July 3 to also put
infrastructure for sports facilities on the list, especially
when they have a more luxury character for resorts," Avet told
Reuters. "These resorts have a luxury character, that is why it
is not appropriate to export."
    North Korea has said construction of the resort was part of
its plans to boost economic development and improve livelihoods
and not just for the elite.

 (Reporting By Narae Kim and Jinsol Lee; Editing by Peter
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