South Korea’s Winter Olympic Games organizing committee on Monday said they “welcome” North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s proposal to send a delegation to the upcoming Olympics set to be held in PyeongChang next month.
A torchbearer holds up the Olympic torch during a relay for the 2018 PyeongChang Olympic Games on Monday at Homigot Sunrise Square, North Gyeongsang Province. Yonhap
Lee Hee-beom, president and CEO of the PyeongChang 2018 Organizing Committee, said that the committee “welcomes the North’s proposal to send a delegation to the Games” and that they “would hold talks with the government and the International Olympic Committee to be fully ready (to host them).”
“(Should North Korea participate) The PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics will be the best and the most diverse Winter Games in history as the peace Olympics,” Lee said in a press release issued following Kim’s New Year message.
The committee has already been preparing for the North delegation’s accommodation and transportation in advance, according to Lee.
In a separate phone interview with The Korea Herald, Lee, however, gave no further details on when the talks with the North would start and how many North Korean athletes would be joining the Olympics in February.
Earlier on Monday, North Korea‘s Kim said that their participation in the Winter Games will be “a good opportunity to show unity of the two Koreas,” wishing the Games to be a success. Kim added two Koreas’ officials may meet for further discussion for sending their delegation.
Kim’s message came after PyeongChang and the IOC have been trying to ensure the reclusive regime’s participation, which would mark the first time they are taking part in Olympic Games held south of the DMZ. North Korean athletes did not participate in the 1988 Seoul Summer Olympics.