IOC extends deadline for N Korea's Winter Games participation

ANI | Updated: Jan 08, 2018 23:48 IST

Lausanne [Switzerland], Jan 8 (ANI): The International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced on Monday that it had extended the deadline to register North Korean athletes for the upcoming Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games.

The local media reported that the IOC did not specify when the cutoff date would be extended and said that talks were on between South Korea and North Korea.

The North Korean Olympic committee had missed the October 30 deadline set by the IOC, to register their athletes' participation in the Games.

"The IOC's mission is always to ensure the participation of all qualified athletes, beyond all political tensions and divisions. On this, we have been working with all the stakeholders for quite some time", the IOC said in a statement.

"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. Once this political commitment is clear, the IOC will take the final decision," the statement added.

The decision by the IOC comes after the two Koreas have agreed to sit down next week to discuss ways to cooperate in the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics to be held next month.

The Winter Olympics is scheduled to take place at South Korea's Pyeongchang from February 9-25.

According to Yonhap news agency, North Korea had issued a notification to South Korea's Ministry of Unification that it had accepted the offer to hold talks on next Tuesday at a truce village called Panmunjom, located just across the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ).

The decision was taken following North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's re-conciliatory New Year message in a televised address to the nation.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in will hope that the next week's bilateral talks with their arch-rivals could pave way for the de-nuclearisation and peace across the Korean peninsula and broader coordination between the U.S. and South Korea.

China on Wednesday welcomed the talks between the two Koreas and has appreciated their effort to use the 2018 Winter Olympics as a platform for improving ties. It also called on all parties to see the positive side of the upcoming high-level talks between the two Koreas.

Also, North Korea re-opened the suspended inter-Korean communication hotline with South Korea, after it was closed down in February 2016.

The upcoming high-level talks come amid the increasing tension between the two countries as South Korea seized a Hong Kong-flagged oil tanker returning after allegedly transferring oil to North Korea a few days ago.

North Korea is also under tough international sanctions over the launch of three intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and other nuclear tests last year. (ANI)