North Korea to send 22 athletes to Winter Olympic Games

039;N. Korea's Participation will Contribute to Successful Hosting of Olympics'

However, the decision to field a unified ice hockey team has sparked a sharp backlash in the South, including from younger South Koreans upset that an unchastened North Korea is taking the spotlight. Accreditations will also be given to 24 officials and 21 media representatives from the DPRK.

International Olympic Committee chief Thomas Bach told reporters in Lausanne that the 22 athletes will participate in figure skating, short-track speed skating, cross-country skiing and Alpine skiing, in addition to the joint ice-hockey team.

Many in South Korea are also opposed to the idea, accusing their president, Moon Jae-in, of sacrificing Olympic ideals for diplomatic expediency.

Do said that North Korea has agreed to send its players as early as possible to South Korea so they can practice with the South's players.

If Samjiyon's performances in South Korea include any propaganda elements, it risks triggering strong resistance from conservatives in South Korea, where praising North Korea is punishable by up to seven years in prison under a contentious security law.

While it has clearly opened doors, perhaps we should remain cautious and see whether there is lasting progress - beyond any show for the world's cameras under the Olympic rings.

"The Olympic Games are always about building bridges, they never erect walls". "Such an agreement would have seemed impossible only a few weeks ago", International Olympic Committee chief Thomas Bach said in Lausanne, Switzerland.

While Moon has acknowledged to the South Korean players that this would place an extra burden on them, he insisted that a joint team competing at the Olympics would become a historic moment.

The two Koreas have agreed to march together under a unification flag - a pale blue silhouette of the Korean peninsula - at the opening ceremony of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics on February 9, and to form a unified women's ice hockey team. However, to maintain fairness for opponents, only 22 can suit up for each game.

North Korean athletes have been allocated places in various skating and skiing events.

The other sports are figure skating, short track speedskating, Alpine skiing and cross-country skiing.

"I think it will be emotionally moving to watch the athletes of both Koreas march under the same flag during the opening ceremony as we come from the same nation", said Oh Ju-yeon, a 46-year-old housewife.

Monday's protests were small but highlighted the mixed reaction to the fragile detente between the two Koreas.

Minister Cho also said Seoul will push ahead with its plan to send an inspection team to the North for joint training and cultural events at the North's Masikryong Ski Resort and Mount Kumgang prior to the Olympics.

The delegation is led by Hyon Song Wol, head of the art troupe which is to perform twice in during the Pyoengchang Olympics. Late on Friday North Korea cancelled the visit, originally scheduled for Saturday.

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