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IOC members expect to see N. Korea at PyeongChang Olympics

All Headlines 19:10 November 16, 2017

By Joo Kyung-don

SEOUL, Nov. 16 (Yonhap) -- International Olympic Committee (IOC) members attending an international anti-doping meeting here on Thursday said they expect to see North Korea at the PyeongChang Winter Games in South Korea next year.

Ugur Erdener, an IOC vice president, said he is counting on North Koreans to be at the 2018 PyeongChang Games. Erdener, who is also the president of World Archery, is one of the IOC Executive Committee members.

"We expect, of course, North Korean athletes' participation in the PyeongChang Games," said Erdener, who attended the World Anti-Doping Agency Foundation Board Meeting. "We support North Korea to be at the PyeongChang Games. That's for keeping peace and it will be a very good opportunity for the Korean Peninsula."

South Korean government and PyoengChang's organizers have been asking for international support to let North Koreans come to the alpine town in Gangwon Province, some 180 kilometers east of Seoul.

So far, North Korea's pairs figure skating team of Ryom Tae-ok and Kim Ju-sik have secured an Olympic berth, but they have yet to confirm their participation. The IOC previously said it will support North Korea to send their athletes, with financial aid also in consideration.

"I hope they'll come, and you know they won't have a big team," said Canadian IOC member Richard Pound, also present at the WADA meeting. "I know they can put a couple of skaters on the ice, and I would encourage them (North Korea) to do that."

Pound, who has been an IOC member since 1978, said North Korea's relationship with the United States could be an important factor in deciding its participation. Following a series of missile provocations and nuclear tests, the relationship between Pyongyang and Washington has become worse, with their leaders engaging in a war of words this year.

"North Korea and the United States are yapping at each other... and their athletes should pay the price," he said. "I hope their leadership will find some way to have them there."

The 2018 Winter Olympic Games will run from Feb. 9 to 25 in PyeongChang and two adjacent cities in Gangwon Province.

In this photo taken by the Associated Press on Nov. 16, 2017, International Olympic Committee Vice President Ugur Erdener (L) speaks with World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) President Craig Reedie before the WADA Foundation Board Meeting in Seoul. (Yonhap)


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