Olympics Officials Discuss a Potential First: A Unified Korean Hockey Team

The International Olympic Committee did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the hockey team proposal.

A unified team of any kind at the Olympics would be a milestone for the Koreas, which have been bitter rivals in international sports as well as in diplomacy and armed conflict, but which also have a history of trying to use sports as an avenue for reconciliation.

North and South Korea have only twice formed a joint sports team, both times in 1991, when their athletes competed together in an international table-tennis championship and a youth soccer tournament. Past negotiations aimed at sending a joint team to the Olympics have all failed.

President Moon Jae-in of South Korea proposed in June that the two Koreas form a unified team for the Pyeongchang Games and that the countries’ athletes march together in the opening and closing ceremonies, which they have done before. Mr. Moon’s sports minister, Do Jong-hwan, later suggested that they could form a joint women’s hockey team.

Those proposals were raised on Tuesday when delegations from both Koreas met for talks at the border village of Panmunjom, though the joint statement released at the end of the negotiations did not mention them. South Korean officials said they would continue to discuss the proposals with the North Koreans as well as the International Olympic Committee.

Follow-up sessions at Panmunjom are expected to be held on Monday, when both Koreas agreed to hold working-level talks on their border and to settle details on the North’s plan to send an art troupe to the Pyeongchang Olympics.

South Korean officials said, meanwhile, that the International Olympic Committee was expected to bring together the national Olympic committees of both Koreas, as well as the international hockey federation and the Pyeongchang organizing committee, to discuss the possibility of a unified women’s hockey team and other issues arising from the North’s last-minute decision to join the Games.

So far, the only North Korean athletes to qualify for the Pyeongchang Games are a pairs figure-skating team. North Korea missed an Oct. 31 deadline to accept invitations from South Korea and the International Olympic Committee to join the Games. But the international body has said it remains flexible and is willing to consider wild-card entries for North Korean athletes.

The South Korean women’s hockey team, which has qualified for the Olympics,…

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