North Korea agrees to send athletes for Winter Olympics in South Korea

Amid a tense political stand-off over the North's nuclear and missile programmes, it had been unclear whether the country would have any competitors in Pyeongchang.

South Korean Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon, left, shakes hands with the head of the North Korean delegation Ri Son Gwon after their meeting at Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone in Paju, South Korea, on Tuesday.   -  AP

The IOC has expressed its support for North Korea's decision to send its athletes to the Winter Olympics in South Korea next month.

Amid a tense political stand-off over the North's nuclear and missile programmes, it had been unclear whether the country would have any competitors in Pyeongchang.

The two parties held talks on Tuesday in Panmunjom, in the Korean peninsula's demilitarised area, after which it was agreed North Korea would send a delegation to the Games, which begin on February 9.

In July last year, South Korea pledged to encourage their neighbours to participate, in a move encouraged by the IOC, which also welcomed the latest developments.

 

"The IOC warmly welcomes the proposals on which the Republic of Korea (ROK) and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) have agreed upon," read an IOC statement.

"Now the IOC is waiting for the official reports and the official proposals from the Tuesday meeting. The IOC will then discuss these proposals in particular as far as the participation, the number and names of athletes from the NOC of DPRK, and the format of their participation (flag, anthem, ceremonies, etc.) are concerned."

IOC president Thomas Bach added: "These proposals mark a great step forward in the Olympic spirit."