Olympic Games chief shrugs off Korean tensions




  • In World
  • 2017-05-20 03:00:31Z
  • By AFP
This photo taken on February 2, 2017 shows Lee Hee-Beom, president and CEO of the Pyeongchang Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (POCOG), speaking to AFP at his office in Pyeongchang
This photo taken on February 2, 2017 shows Lee Hee-Beom, president and CEO of the Pyeongchang Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (POCOG), speaking to AFP at his office in Pyeongchang  

Military tensions on the Korean peninsula should not prevent the nuclear-armed North sending a team to the 2018 Winter Olympics in the South, according to the head of the Games organising committee Lee Hee-Beom.

The former diplomat and trade minister also said the heavily-fortified border between the two Koreas would be opened to allow any North Korean team to make a highly symbolic road crossing into the South.

Because the 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice rather than a peace treaty, the two Koreas remain technically at war.

Their common border is among the most militarised in the world, and land crossings are extremely rare.

Typically, North Korean athletes competing in the South have flown in via Beijing.

"It would be very symbolic as it would be the first time in the name of sport that they come by road," said organising committee spokesperson Nancy Park.

Pyongyang has yet to officially confirm whether it will send any athletes to the Winter Games, and a recent surge in tensions across the peninsula has done nothing to raise the hopes of those who would like to see it happen.

Although he favours engagement with the North, newly-elected South Korean President Moon Jae-In warned just this week that there was a "high possibility" of military clashes between the two Koreas.

But Lee, who took over the reins of the organising committee in May last year, said there was plenty of precedent for inter-Korean sporting contact during times of tension.

"When we hosted the 1988 Olympic Games, the 2002 World Cup and 2011 World Athletics Championships on many occasions we did have some military tensions between North and South so today is not an exception," Lee told journalists Friday on a visit to London.

He noted that even during the current tensions, the South Korean women's football team played an Asian Cup qualifying match with the North in Pyongyang last month, while a North Korean women's ice hockey team played in the South.

Both events passed off "without incident", he said. "That is the peace of sports."

North Korea has taken part in several Winter Olympics, but only ever won two medals -- a women's speed skating silver at Innsbruck in 1964, and a bronze in the women's short-track at Albertville 1992.

Lee said he was in discussions with Olympic officials over including North Korean ice hockey teams and a number of figure skaters in the Pyeongchang Games.

Past Olympics have seen moments of inter-Korean reconciliation.

The teams entered the opening ceremonies for several Games in the 2000s marching under a unified flag, and when two gymnasts from North and South posed together for a selfie at Rio 2016 it was praised as embodying the Olympic spirit.

COMMENTS

More Related News

Trump declares North Korea state sponsor of terrorism, triggers sanctions
Trump declares North Korea state sponsor of terrorism, triggers sanctions
  • World
  • 2017-11-20 18:37:34Z

By Jeff Mason WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump on Monday declared North Korea a state sponsor of terrorism, a designation that allows the United States to impose additional sanctions and risks inflaming tensions over Pyongyang's nuclear weapons and missile programs. The Republican president

How British naval tactics from 1800s could be used against North Korea 
How British naval tactics from 1800s could be used against North Korea 

British naval tactics dating from the Napoleonic Wars of the early 1800s should be applied to isolate North Korea, according to a former United States Navy officer who has also served as an advisor to senior US politicians. A multinational blockade would increase the pressure on Kim Jong-un and force the North Korean dictator to abandon its development of nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles, Gregory Keeley, a retired lieutenant commander with the US Navy, wrote in an opinion article in The Hill. Lt Cmdr Keeley said that President Donald Trump has two potential ways of dealing with North Korea - although "direct kinetic military action" and learning to live...

North Korea Has 200,000 Soldiers in Its Special Forces (And They Have One Goal)
North Korea Has 200,000 Soldiers in Its Special Forces (And They Have One Goal)

North Korean special forces have evolved from a nuisance force designed to stage attacks in the enemy's rear into something far more dangerous. One of the most vital parts of North Korea's war machine is one that relies the most on so-called "soldier power" skills. North Korea has likely the largest special-forces organization in the world, numbering two hundred thousand men-and women-trained in unconventional warfare.

What Would Japan Do if They Discovered North Korea Was About to Start a Nuclear War?
What Would Japan Do if They Discovered North Korea Was About to Start a Nuclear War?

While a preemptive-strike capability for Japan isn't impossible, it is more difficult than many observers realize. Building the force necessary for prosecuting an air campaign would certainly necessitate busting the 1 percent GDP cap on defense spending that Japan currently has in place, but like the prohibition on "offensive" weapons, that too is a policy matter that can be reversed. Another, less lethal national security concern is Japan's debt problem, which is currently north of 200 percent GDP.

Surgeons remove worms, parasites from N. Korean soldier
Surgeons remove worms, parasites from N. Korean soldier
  • World
  • 2017-11-19 00:36:19Z

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - Surgeons treating a North Korean soldier who was severely wounded by gunfire while escaping to South Korea have removed dozens of parasites from his body, including presumed roundworms as long as 27 centimeters (11 inches), hospital officials said.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Comments

Top News: World

facebook
Hit "Like"
Don't miss any important news
Thanks, you don't need to show me this anymore.