SEOUL (Reuters) - The organizing 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 kilometers 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 kilometers away from Pyeongchang, cannot guarantee meeting this goal,” the committee added.
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 August 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 Rutherford