Photo: Christof Stache Agence France-Presse
Figure skaters-north Korean Ryom Tae-ok and Kim Ju-sik
Paris — as the North Korea and South Korea multiply the gestures of opening, the couple of skaters-north Korean Ryom Tae-ok and Kim Ju-sik might be accompanied by other compatriots in the olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea (from 9 to 25 February).
This is the 29 September last that Ryom, 18, and Kim, 25 years old, wearing black costumes with sequins, have earned the right to dream. In Oberstdorf, in Germany, they took the sixth place in the qualifying event by skating on the air of the song I’m a song, performed by Ginette Reno.
Their participation in the Games to Pyeongchang, however, is not yet acquired. The olympic Committee of north korea (NOC of DPRK) has, in effect, missed the deadline of 30 October to confirm their participation with the international Federation of skating (ISU).
But these athletes could still compete at the invitation of the international olympic Committee. “We continue our discussions with the NOC of DPRK to achieve such interests in the observance of the olympic Charter. The IOC keeps available its invitations for the north Korean delegation and will not take its decision that when the time came, ” wrote the IOC in a press release.
The invitation of the IOC could be extended to other disciplines, and relate to athletes of north koreans who are not able to qualify.
“The IOC says that [North Korea] would be able to take part in all the disciplines “, explains to the AFP Lee Hee-beom, the patron of the Games to Pyeongchang. “But North Korea will send instead of the athletes in figure skating, speed skating, cross-country skiing and women’s ice hockey “, avance-t-il.
Opening of Kim Jong-un
On Monday, the number one north-Korean Kim Jong-un, has opened the door to what Pyongyang is represented in Pyeongchang.
“We are willing to take the necessary measures” to “send our delegation” to the Games to Pyeongchang, said Kim in his New Year’s message to the nation of north korea.
South Korea proposed on Tuesday to hold high-level talks with Pyongyang on January 9, in order to improve relations intercoréennes.
North Korea and South Korea are still technically at war despite the signing of non-aggression pact of 1953. So far, athletic relations between the two countries are not always stormy, even if North Korea had boycotted the summer Games in Seoul in 1988, or even refused to participate to the qualifications for the 2002 World cup of soccer, South Korea hosted jointly with Japan.
Since the Games in Seoul, North Korea — who is not particularly fond of winter sports — has sent five times in a delegation, on the last eight editions of the winter olympics.
Only the editions of Sochi in 2014, in Salt Lake City 2002 and Lillehammer in 1994 have not seen the flag of the country float in the olympic village.
In Albertville, France, in 1992, there was even a record of twenty representatives of North Korea, with a bronze medal in speed skating (500 m ladies).
In the history of the winter Games, North Korea has won two medals, including silver in 3000 m ladies in Innsbruck (1964), still in speed skating.
Pyeongchang is located just 80 kilometers from the border with North Korea, a border which is heavily militarized.
Both Seoul that the IOC wish that North Korea is involved in these ” olympic Games of peace “. But the involvement of Pyongyang sporting events is largely dependent on the evolution of the political and military situation in the peninsula.
The tension in the peninsula is particularly strong in recent months, with the continued progress of nuclear and missile programs of North Korea and exchanges of threats and invectives between Kim Jong-un and the president of the United States, Donald Trump.