Koreas may field joint hockey team

Associated Press

SEOUL, South Korea

North and South Korea want to field a joint women’s hockey team at the Pyeongchang Olympics, and they have relayed their position to the International Olympic Committee, officials in Seoul said Monday.

A joint team at the games in South Korea would require IOC approval. But if realized, it would be the Koreas’ first unified Olympic team, leaving a major mark in their sports diplomacy that often mirrors their rocky political ties.

South Korean sports ministry spokesman Hwang Seong Un said the two Koreas have been discussing the make-up of a unified women’s hockey team since last year when the North’s IOC representative, Chang Ung, visited South Korea along with his country’s taekwondo demonstration team.

Hwang said the two Koreas later agreed in principle to form a joint women’s hockey team and informed the IOC about that. He said the matter would be discussed Saturday when officials from the two Koreas and the IOC meet at IOC headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland, according to South Korea’s sports ministry.

The two Koreas previously sent a joint team to major international sports events only twice, both in 1991. One event was the world table tennis championships in Chiba, Japan, and the other was soccer’s World Youth Championship in Portugal. During an era of detente in the 2000s, their athletes marched together under a “unification flag” depicting their peninsula during the opening and closing ceremonies of nine international sports events.

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