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IOC extends Olympics entry deadline for North Korean athletes
Jan. 8 (UPI) — North Korean athletes have an extended deadline to register for the Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games, the International Olympic Committee said Monday.
In a statement, the IOC said it has decided to keep the door open for the North’s participation in the Games which begin on February 9, although it did not specify until when the deadline was extended.
It said that the decision was made after consulting both Koreas for a long time on the matter, while welcoming the inter-Korean dialogue taking place on Tuesday to arrange the North’s participation.
The committee’s mission is to ensure the participation of all qualified athletes, regardless of political tensions and divisions, it said, according to CNN .
“With regard to the very particular situation on the Korean peninsula we need the political commitment from all parties concerned to make such a participation possible,” it added.
Two North Korean athletes, Ryom Tae-ok and Kim Ju-sik, qualified for the Games as a figure skating duo in September last year but the North’s Olympic authorities missed the October deadline to register them for the Games.
North Korean Olympic representative Chang Ung said Saturday that the reclusive state is “likely to participate,” according to Japanese media.
Chang arrived in Switzerland Monday where he is expected to meet IOC President Thomas Bach to discuss how many athletes can take part and in which categories, Yonhap reported.
When asked about the scale of North Korea’s Olympic delegation, Chang said, “Ask the IOC. The IOC will make an announcement.”
This comes amid the report that the International Paralympic Committee has also welcomed the North’s possible participation in the Pyeongchang Paralympic Games which runs through March 9 to 18.
IPC Spokesman Craig Spence told the Voice of America on Monday that this would be the first time ever that the North takes part in the Winter Paralympics.
Spence said that the committee is cooperating with North Korea and most of its Nordic Skiers to arrange their participation, as there’s still time to qualify.
Even if North Korean athletes don’t pass the mark, the committee will consider wild-card entries, he said.
Shin Young-soon, head of the Kinsler Foundation which supports North Korea athletes with disabilities, told Yonhap News last week that the North is likely to send two para nordic skiers- Ma Yoo-cheol and Kim Jung -hyun- to the Winter Paralympics if it decides to compete in the Games.