IOC president says Kim committed to Tokyo, Beijing Olympics

01 April, 2018, 04:51 | Author: Sheila Harris
  • IOC president says Kim committed to Tokyo, Beijing Olympics

Kim Jong-un is committed to sending North Korean teams to the next two Olympics, the IOC chief Thomas Bach said Saturday after a rare meeting with the leader of the nuclear-armed regime in Pyongyang.

In a meeting with International Olympic Committee chief Thomas Bach, Kim said he is very thankful that the International Olympic Committee paid special attention to the North Korean players' participation in the 23rd Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, and actively cooperated while taking special measures beyond rules and precedents, according to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

"This commitment has been fully supported by the supreme leader Kim Jong-un in a meeting we had this afternoon", Bach said. Kim praised Bach and the International Olympic Committee for helping with mediation and getting North Korea to join this year's Winter Olympics in South Korea.

North Korea's official KCNA news agency said Mr Kim thanked Mr Bach for helping to bring about a "dramatic thawing" of tensions on the Korean peninsula.

"He said that he expects a close cooperation with the International Olympic Committee and a good cooperation in the development and uplifting of athletic sports such as winter athletics and other sports in accordance with the global trend".

Bach was invited to North Korea at the January meeting with the IOC since claiming that the country's Winter Olympic appearance has sent a "message of peace" across the world.

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The isolated, nuclear-armed regime rarely hosts foreign dignitaries but recent weeks have seen a flurry of diplomacy, with Kim making his first foreign trip as leader to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping and inviting him to visit Pyongyang.

President Thomas Bach, left, is greeted by North Korean Sports Minister Kim Il Guk on his arrival at the Pyongyang Airport in North Korea, Thursday, March 29, 2018.

Both the North and South hailed the Pyeongchang Games as a significant step toward easing tensions on the Korean peninsula. The meeting will take place ahead of an expected meeting between US President Donald Trump and Kim in May.

Hopes have been raised that the North Korean leader may be willing to discuss his nuclear weapons program and other measures to reduce the threat of war, possibly in exchange for security guarantees and an easing of the worldwide sanctions that have severely pinched the already struggling North Korean economy.

Further moves saw a squad of cheerleaders deployed and, arguably most significantly of all, a high-level North Korean delegation travelled which included Kim Yo-jong - the sister of the leader.

Kim's talks with Bach appear to have focused mostly on sports.

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