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Unified Korean ice hockey team proposed for Winter Olympics

For the first time, South Korea and North Korea could field a unified team at a multi-sport competition.

North Korea's women's ice hockey team
North Korea's women's ice hockey team

SOUTH KOREA HAS put forward a proposal to field a joint women’s ice hockey team with North Korea at the upcoming Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

According to South Korea’s national news agency Yonhap, vice sports minister Roh Tae-kang said the prospect of a unified team was raised at an inter-Korean meeting on Tuesday, which saw North Korea agree to send athletes to the Games.

Further working-level talks are expected next week before a meeting on January 20 at IOC headquarters in Lausanne.

“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.

The two Koreas have never fielded a joint team at a multi-sport competition, though they did so at the 1991 World Table Tennis Championships and the 1991 FIFA World Youth Championship.

The offer has not yet been confirmed by North Korea officials, but they have announced that a ‘cheering squad’ will be sent to the winter Olympics along with an official delegation. This is seen as a major step toward improving relations between the two countries.

An offer has also been made by the South to have both countries’ athletes walk into the Opening Ceremony together under a unified flag, although similar to the ice hockey proposal, a resolution has not yet been reached.

The agreement that North Korea would send a delegation to the Games came following previously rising tensions between the two nations, who remain technically at war.

- Omni

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