North Korea to take part in Tokyo Olympics, IOC chief says

After participating in the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, North Korea would soon take part in the next Olympic events in Japan and China.

Following an extensive "four eyes" meeting with Kim Jong-un, it was confirmed that the country is committed to its athletes competing at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 and the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022, as well as the Summer Youth Olympic Games Buenos Aires 2018 and the Winter Youth Olympic Games Lausanne 2020.

Bach was met at Pyongyang's worldwide airport by North Korean Sports Minister Kim Il Guk and Jang Ung, the country's Olympic committee member.

President Thomas Bach, left, is greeted by North Korean Sports Minister Kim Il Guk on his arrival at the Pyongyang Airport in North Korea, Thursday, March 29, 2018.

"He said that the once frozen north-south relations greeted a dramatic thawing season with the Olympics as a momentum and it was totally attributable to the efforts of the International Olympic Committee which offered an opportunity and paved a path for it", the agency reported.

Athletes from North and South Korea marched under a unified peninsula flag at the opening ceremony in Pyeongchang and the two Koreas have experienced a significant thaw in tensions since the February 9-25 Winter Olympics.

United States President Donald Trump is then due to meet Kim before the end of May.

The isolated regime rarely hosts foreign dignitaries but recent weeks have seen a flurry of diplomacy, with Kim making his first foreign trip as leader to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping and inviting him to visit Pyongyang.

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. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said he is exploring the possibility of a meeting with Kim as well.

"In particular, the joint march sent a strong message of peace", President Bach said.

"It is the mission of the International Olympic Committee always to build bridges and by building these bridges through sport we can also make a contribution to the ongoing political talks", he said, adding that he hopes the talks will lead "in the Olympic spirit to a peaceful future for the Korean Peninsula".

This support has already begun, with immediate assistance to athletes from the DPRK NOC to compete in the table tennis World Championships, which are taking place in Sweden this April.

Raising the level of North Korean athletes has been high on Kim's agenda since he became leader.


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