With the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang less than a month away, South Korea continues to offer olive branches to their northern neighbors. Reuters reported on Friday that South Korea has offered to combine their women’s ice hockey team with North Korea’s team, with the team competing jointly.
This offer comes on the heels of a landmark deal between the warring nations that allows North Korea to send a delegation of athletes, fans, and high-ranking government officials to the South for the upcoming Olympics in Pyeongchang. The deal marks the first time that athletes from the North will compete in a South Korean Olympics, as North Korea boycotted the 1988 Olympics in Seoul.
North Korea has yet to comment on the South’s offer, which is in the spirit of the original deal and even goes beyond it. The International Olympic Committee is expected to extend several “wild card” spots to North Korean athletes so they can compete at the Olympics without qualifying, but it’s not known if that would apply to individual athletes or an entire team. Joining teams would make that issue moot and allow even more North Korean athletes to compete.
The women’s ice hockey teams in the North and South aren’t unfamiliar with each other. In April 2017, South Korea allowed the North Korean team to travel to the South for the Women’s World Championships in ice hockey. The two teams even played each other, with the South defeating the North 3-0 in division play.
The South has also offered to combine with the North for the opening and closing ceremonies, with the two countries marching together under a unified flag. The North has yet to respond to that offer as well.
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