N. Korea delegates arrive in Seoul for pre-Olympics inspection

North Korea prepares grand military parade on eve of Olympics: Report

Stamps picture mascots for Pyeongchang Olympics

Olympics organizers on Friday welcomed an agreement between North and South Korea to unite athletes at the upcoming Winter Games in Pyeongchang, and promised that "much more exciting initiatives" promoting Korean unity will emerge this weekend.

International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach said there would be a combined Korean team competing for the first time with athletes from both countries forming a joint women's ice hockey team.

"Let us not forget that such an agreement would have seemed impossible only a few weeks ago", Bach said, in an apparent reference to the feverish tension triggered past year by the North's repeated missile tests. Game rosters are set at 22, with 20 skaters and two goalies, and the head coach Sarah Murray will have to pick at least three North Koreans for each match.

The two countries have held working-level talks since.

North Korea did not qualify any spots for the Olympics, but the International Olympic Committee had power to offer special invitations.

But the North boycotted the 1988 Games in Seoul, so its presence in Pyeongchang - just 80 kilometres (50 miles) south of the demilitarised zone that divides the Koreas - has been seen as a significant, if not stunning, diplomatic coup.

"I am sure this will be a very emotional moment not only for all Koreans but also for the entire world", Bach said.

The meeting produced an agreement that 22 athletes from North Korea will participate in the Olympic event.

"The Olympic Games are always about building bridges".

Japan has warned that the world should not let their guard down with regards to North Korea because of the agreement and the North's "charm offensive", Sky News said.

The "Olympic Korean Peninsula Declaration" ruled that 12 players and one official from North Korea will be added to the existing South Korea women's ice hockey squad, which consists of 23 players. "The Olympic Winter Games Pyeongchang 2018 are hopefully opening the door to a brighter future on the Korean peninsula".

But many people in South Korea disapprove of the unified women's ice hockey team.

The IOC said it would provide any necessary equipment for the athletes.

North and South Korea remain technically at war since the Korean war ended with armistice, not a peace treaty, in 1953. He said the recent talks between the two Koreas indicated that tensions would be reduced during the Winter Olympics.

North Korean delegates arrived in Seoul on Sunday on their way to inspect venues and prepare cultural performances for next month's Winter Olympics, in the first visit by Pyongyang officials to the South for four years.

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