South Korea PM apologises for gaffe on unified team for Winter Olympics

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The two Koreas have agreed to march together under a unification flag - a pale blue silhouette of the whole Korean peninsula - at the Games' opening ceremony on February 9, and to form a unified women's ice hockey team.

The IOC has said it wants to be "as flexible as possible" in maximising North Korean participation at the 2018 Games and has opened the door to some of the country's speed-skaters and skiers competing.

Seoul, Jan 20 North Korea has informed Seoul it will send a delegation tomorrow to prepare cultural performances during the Winter Olympics, the South's unification minister said today, a day after Pyongyang abruptly cancelled the visit.

IOC President Thomas Bach (centre), shakes hands with North Korea's National Olympic Committee president Kim Il Guk (left) and South Korea's Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Jong-Hwan Do (right) in Lausanne January 20, 2018.

Hyon Song-Wol, reportedly an ex-girlfriend of leader Kim Jong-Un, would have been the first North Korean official to visit the South in four years if Saturday's trip had gone ahead.

IOC president Thomas Bach is hosting a mini-summit at the organisation's headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland, with the leaders of the Olympic committees from both Koreas as well Pyeongchang 2018 organisers.

Accreditations will also be given to 24 officials and 21 media representatives from the DPRK.

"The Olympic Games show us what the world could look like, if we were all guided by the Olympic spirit of respect and understanding", Bach said.

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At the opening ceremony, the joint delegation "will be led into the Olympic stadium by the Korean unification flag" carried together by athlete from each country, the IOC said.

Pyongyang notified the neighboring country about that decision without offering any explanation, the South Korean Unification Ministry confirmed.

"As of today, the original pre-registration pool of 500 athletes has already been reduced by 111 by the Panel", the International Olympic Committee said in a statement.

The art performances during the PyeongChang Games, if held, would be the first North Korean performances in South Korea since 2002, when Pyongyang sent a cohort of 30 singers and dancers from several music and performance groups to Seoul for a joint event.

But Pyongyang said it had suspended the plan, giving no reason. Late on Friday North Korea canceled the visit, originally scheduled for Saturday.

He said: "Since 2014, the IOC has addressed the special situation of having the Olympic Winter Games on the Korean peninsula".

"It was not easy to put this list together, but we wanted to be absolutely sure that only clean athletes from Russian Federation can be invited to participate in the Olympic Winter Games Pyeongchang 2018".

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