North Korean athletes shall be allowed to journey via the demilitarised no-go zone into South Korea as a symbolic peace gesture earlier than subsequent yr’s Winter Olympic Games, organisers have promised.

The 4km-wide zone has enormous numbers of armed troops stationed on either side and no motion of individuals is allowed between the 2.

But Pyeongchang 2018 organising committee chief Hee-Beom Lee stated athletes from the North would have the ability to arrive by highway.

“Symbolically, to maintain peace in the Korean peninsula, their participation is very important, and for the success of the Olympic Games,” he added.

The demilitarised zone (DMZ), established on the finish of the Korean War in 1953, will imply help workers and followers will nonetheless need to journey from the North by ship.

Last month, Olympic officers insisted rising tensions on the peninsula over the North’s missile testing programme wouldn’t jeopardise the Games. South Korea’s new president Moon Jae-in stated on Wednesday there was a “high possibility” of navy battle with their neighbours.

So far, no North Koreans have certified for the Games, with determine skating providing the most effective alternative. The ultimate locations shall be crammed on the World Championships later this yr.

“With or without qualification we are still talking with the International Olympic Committee and the relevant international federations for North Korea to participate,” Lee instructed BBC Sport’s Alex Capstick.

He additionally spoke about Russia’s participation on the Games – the International Paralympic Committee has banned Russian athletes following revelations of a state-sponsored doping programme, whereas Olympic chiefs have stopped wanting an all-out ban.

Lee stated the nation was doing an excellent job cleansing up its anti-doping system and doesn’t imagine the IOC will block them.

“I’m hopeful and I’m confident for the Russians to participate in Pyeongchang 2018,” he stated.

He stated he was additionally “hopeful” the NHL would enable its star ice hockey gamers to attend the Games.

The sport’s main league stated final month it might not enable gamers to journey to Pyeongchang as a result of membership house owners had been sad on the prospect of halting the season for 3 weeks to make a window for the Games.

The 2018 Games shall be held between 9 and 25 February, with the Winter Paralympics going down from 9-18 March.

Pyeongchang 2018: Athletes to journey via demilitarised zone by: Farah Grimm published:

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