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Joint Korean ice hockey team proposed for Pyeongchang Games: report

Kyodo

The possibility of athletes from North and South Korea forming a joint team has been raised and will be discussed next week by the IOC, Yonhap News Agency reported Friday.

The idea of forming a joint women’s ice hockey team for next month’s Pyeongchang Olympics in South Korea was discussed during an inter-Korean meeting on Tuesday, according to South Korean Vice Sports Minister Roh Tae Kang.

After the meeting, which also involved a proposal for the two nations’ athletes to march together at the opening ceremony, North Korea agreed to send a delegation to Pyeongchang. The issues are set to be discussed by the IOC at its headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Jan. 20.

According to the Yonhap report, the idea of a joint ice hockey team was first proposed by South Korea last June, but domestic critics opposed taking spots in the Olympics away from South Korean players and handing them to North Korean athletes.

To resolve this issue, South Korea is seeking permission from the IOC, the International Ice Hockey Federation and participating nations to expand its roster from 23 to 35 in order to accommodate additional skaters from North Korea without breaking up its own team.

“Even if we have one Korean team in women’s hockey, we’ll make sure it will not come at the expense of South Korean players,” Roh said.