IOC boss to visit North Korea after Winter Olympics: source

by Karolos Grohmann

Reuters

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach will visit North Korea after the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics as part of an agreement between the IOC and North and South Korea, a source within the Olympic movement told said Monday.

The source said the trip would be “sometime after the Olympic Games,” which are due to finish on Feb. 25. The source did not comment on the agenda for the visit.

North Korea agreed to attend the Pyeongchang Games after host South Korea and the IOC encouraged the reclusive, heavily sanctioned state to participate as a gesture of peace.

Athletes from North and South Korea, technically still at war, marched together at the opening ceremony and have fielded a unified women’s ice hockey team, the first time an inter-Korean team has competed at any Olympic Games.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in has been using the games in his efforts to re-engage with the North and to pave the way for talks over the North’s weapons programs.

The IOC and the two Koreas signed a tripartite agreement on Jan. 20 in Lausanne, Switzerland, that set out the details of North Korea’s Olympic participation, including the number of athletes, the sports they would take part in as well as their joint march.

The agreement was seen as a breakthrough given the Koreas had not marched together at an Olympics for more than 12 years.

Moon hosted two of North Korea’s most senior officials at the opening ceremony, including North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s sister. Moon warmly shook hands with her and later held talks with her in Seoul.

Kim Jong Un has invited Moon for talks in Pyongyang, South Korean officials said, setting the stage for the first meeting of Korean leaders in more than a decade.

The thaw in relations has centered on the Olympics, with a senior American member of the IOC calling for the joint ice hockey team, which included 12 North Korean players, to be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.