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Olympics officials, Koreas meet to finalize deal

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach (C) poses with North Korea’s Sports Minister and Olympic Committee President Kim Il Guk (L) and South Korean Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Do Jong-hwan, at the IOC headquarters in Pully, near Lausanne, January 20, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

Olympics organizers and representatives from the two Koreas are meeting to work out the details of a landmark deal on the participation of Pyongyang in the Winter Games next month.

Thomas Bach, the president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), hosted a mini-summit at the organization’s headquarters in the Swiss city of Lausanne on Saturday, with the leaders of the Olympic committees from both Koreas as well the organizers of the 2018 games, to be held in the South Korean city of Pyeongchang from February 9 to 25.

The committee is to sign off on the terms agreed by Seoul and Pyongyang earlier this month and try to implement them without violating Olympic rules.

The two neighbors have agreed to march together at the opening ceremony under a unification flag and field a united women’s hockey team.

Under the agreement, Pyongyang will send a 550-member delegation, including 230 cheerleaders, 140 artists, and 30 taekwondo players to the games. Skiers from the two countries will be training together at a resort in North Korea and the two sides are going to form a joint ice hockey team.

Meanwhile, North Korea has canceled a weekend visit by an art troupe to the South to discuss performances during the Winter Olympics. Seoul has asked Pyongyang for an explanation and expressed hope to reschedule the visit soon.

The sides present at the Saturday meeting are expected to issue a statement after the talks and announce the final arrangements.

The two Koreas have long had strained ties. Tensions recently skyrocketed with repeated North Korean missile and nuclear tests and increased South Korean joint military action with the United States. But tensions then subsided with bilateral dialog and mutual overtures.

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