18/03/2017 - 09:50

Olympics: North Korea ice hockey team asks to play in South

© LIU JIN / AFP/ 2011

North Korea’s women’s ice hockey team has asked for permission to play in South Korea, an official said on Friday, in what appears a positive sign ahead of next year’s Pyeongchang Olympics.

The team wants to play next month’s Division II Women’s World Championship in Gangneung, the ice hockey venue for next year’s Olympics, a spokeswoman for the Games organisers told AFP.

North Korea are scheduled to play the championship’s opening game against Australia on April 2 but they will first need permission from South Korea’s Ministry of Unification.

“Right now the Ministry of Unification is reviewing whether to grant their approval,” Nancy Park of Games organising body POCOG said.

“All of this is a good sign. We always encourage participation of all the countries in the Olympics.”

North Korea’s women have already missed qualifying for the Olympics, but the rare trip south by athletes from the country augurs well for next year’s Games.

Relations between the two Koreas, who remain technically at war, have plummeted in recent months and in 1988, the North boycotted the Summer Games held in Seoul.


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