Thursday, 19 July, 2018

N.Korean leader meets International Olympic Committee president

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach. Reuters International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach. Reuters
Deanna Wagner | 01 April, 2018, 04:51

The International Olympic Committee president, Thomas Bach, says Kim Jong-un is committed to having North Korea participate in the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics and the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

North Korea is slated to participate in the next two Olympic Games, after its most recent participation helped to ease tensions along the Korean peninsula.

The North Korean team united with the team of its southern neighbor, marching under the Korean Unification Flag during the opening ceremony, while also forming a single women's ice hockey team. Kim is to meet with South Korean President Moon Jae-in on April 27.

Trump is then due to meet Kim before the end of May for talks on Pyongyang's denuclearisation.

The two sides will also talk about preparing North Korean athletes to qualify for and compete in the Tokyo and Beijing games, as well as the respective Youth Olympic Games, it added.

"This commitment has been fully supported by the supreme leader Kim Jong Un in a meeting we had this afternoon", he said.

KCNA said Kim expressed thanks for the IOC's support and for cooperating with North Korea "regardless of any political climate and conditions".

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Speaking to reporters after arriving at Beijing airport following a flight from North Korea, Bach said, "We had a very fruitful visit to DPRK with good results and agreements in different respects".

Bach had accepted North Korea's invitation in February, and told Reuters at the time that he saw sports as a way to reduce political tensions.

Tokyo has long maintained a hardline position on negotiations with the North, while Pyongyang in turn has threatened to "sink" Japan into the sea and to turn it into "ashes", sending two missiles flying over the country past year.

Of the 22 North Korean athletes who competed in the Pyeongchang Olympics, only two won places on merit and the other 20 were granted spots by the IOC. He called for further co-operation with the International Olympic Committee in developing winter sports and other sports activities in North Korea, the agency said. "We have on the other side agreement that IOC would support preparation, qualification and participation of athletes of DPRK in different global events now and maybe in different training camps", Bach told Xinhua at the airport.

According to Bach, the International Olympic Committee plans to propose joint activities for both Koreas in the upcoming 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo and possibly the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

The two men also held discussions about the development of sport in the North and attended a women's football match.