North Korean athletes and delegates arrived within the South Wednesday to participate within the Winter Paralympics, as a part of an Olympics-driven detente between the 2 neighbours.
Two opponents — each of them collaborating in cross-country snowboarding — together with 4 observer athletes and 18 officers crossed the land border north of Seoul earlier than heading for the venues.
Their journey got here a day after Seoul introduced plans to carry a historic summit between the North’s chief Kim Jong Un and the South’s President Moon Jae-in — the newest fruit of their Olympics-fuelled diplomacy.
Moon sought to make use of the February 9-25 Pyeongchang Winter Video games to attempt to dealer dialogue between Washington and Pyongyang in a bid to ease the nuclear standoff between them.
The North mounted a allure offensive by sending a whole bunch of cheerleaders and Kim’s sister to the opening ceremony of the Video games, throughout which athletes from the 2 Koreas marched collectively beneath a impartial “unification flag”.
Seoul responded by sending Moon’s particular envoys — together with his spy chief — to Pyongyang this week, the place chief Kim instructed them he was prepared to debate denuclearisation with the US.
The North Korean athletes — Kim Jong Hyon and Ma Yu Chol — might march with their counterparts from the South throughout Friday’s opening ceremony for the Paralympics, which run till March 18.
The pair made their worldwide debuts in a event in January in Oberried, Germany.
It’s the first time the North, which has typically confronted criticism for its merciless therapy of disabled folks, has taken half within the Winter Paralympics.
Pyongyang had beforehand despatched athletes to the 2012 Summer time Paralympics in London and the 2016 version of the video games in Rio.
Craig Spence, a spokesman for the Worldwide Paralympic Committee (IPC), stated the athletes had been given “bipartite” slots for the video games, which means they’d not been in a position to meet the complete qualification standards.
“They’ve bipartite invites from us attributable to their circumstances. They haven’t been travelling all over the world and haven’t been ready to participate in all of the qualifying occasions,” he instructed AFP.
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