N Korea to go to next two Olympics

Returning home from Pyongyang where he met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Bach told reporters at a Beijing airport that the reclusive state's National Olympic Committee announced it will "definitely" participate in the Tokyo 2020 Games and the Beijing Winter Games in 2022, as well as in "all the editions of the youth Olympic Games".

The IOC announced its chief's visit to the North on Thursday on its website, saying the visit followed an invitation from North Korea that was extended during an IOC meeting on January 20 in Lausanne.

The North Korean side reiterated its commitment to competing in the Tokyo 2020 Games and the Beijing 2022 Games, according to the International Olympic Committee statement. The two Koreas marched together under the Korean Unification Flag at the opening ceremony and also assembled a historic unified women's hockey team, with 23 South Korean and 12 North Korean players.

Kim thanked the International Olympic Committee for its support and cooperation "regardless of any political climate and conditions", KCNA said. He is the first foreign official to meet Kim since the North Korean leader returned earlier this week from a summit in Beijing with the Chinese president, Xi Jinping.

Bach is now on a three-day visit to North Korea as he seeks to capitalise in the cooling of regional tensions prompted in part by North Korean participation at last month's Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

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The paper said Kim expressed his appreciation for the IOC's role in dramatically easing tensions in inter-Korean relations through the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, which took place in South Korea last month. Kim also is to meet with South Korean President Moon Jae-in on April 27.

According to Reuters, Bach said that the International Olympic Committee would "make a proposal for a potential joint march or potential other joint activities for Tokyo and then maybe also for Beijing at the appropriate time".

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

The exact reasons behind Kim's seeming change of tactics remain something of a mystery.

The IOC supported North Korean athletes financiallly and in kind in their effort to qualify for Pyeongchang. "Now, on the political level, the discussions can continue in the Olympic spirit of understanding and peace".

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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