Published: Mon, January 22, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

International Olympic Committee cuts number of Russians eligible for Games

International Olympic Committee cuts number of Russians eligible for Games

North Korea's late decision to participate in the South's Games will cause logistically issues for the organisers, although the International Olympic Committee is expected to rubber-stamp the nations' plans at a meeting this weekend.

"Today marks a milestone on a long journey", International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach said.

Twenty-two North Koreans will participate at the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games in three sports and five disciplines, it has been approved at a four-party meeting here today.

The most symbolic sporting aspect of the deal is a women's hockey team - the first time that the two Koreas will have joined together in Olympic events.

However, to maintain fairness for opponents, only 22 can suit up for each game.

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Until Saturday, a figure skating pair were the only North Koreans to have secured a spot at the Games.

Places for two short-track speed skaters, three cross-country skiers, and three Alpine skiers have been added for the competitions at Pyeongchang.

The IOC will grant accreditations to the NOC of the DPRK for 22 athletes, 24 officials and 21 media representatives.

Amid ongoing discussions with the North to arrange its participation in the Pyeongchang Olympics, Seoul said it aims to initiate dialogue on improving inter-Korean relations as well as smooth the way for denuclearization talks.

North Korea's participation in the Olympics has been seen as a win for South Korea president Moon Jae-in, who hopes to use the event to make a diplomatic breakthrough in the standoff over North Korea's nuclear and missile program.

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North and South Korea have been talking since last week - for the first time in more than two years - about the Olympics.

Thomas Bach (c) takes a "family photo" with the North Korean and South Korean Olympic leaders.

"Our players were really nervous", Sarah Murray, South Korean women's hockey head coach, told Reuters last month during the team's training swing through the United States.

The panel also recommended 51 coaches and 10 medical staff can not be invited to the Olympics which run from February 9 to 25.

"It was not easy to put this list together, but we wanted to be absolutely sure that only clean athletes from Russian Federation can be invited to participate in the Olympic Winter Games".

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"The leaders reaffirmed the ironclad nature of the alliance, and the importance of maintaining vigilance and unity in the face of North Korean aggression", it said.

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