In some newspaper accounts of a meeting held on January 20, 2018 by Thomas Bach, the President of the International Olympics Committee (IOC), Bach is quoted congratulating the North and South Korea for the inter Korean achievements that he recognizes “would have seemed impossible just a few weeks ago.”
Thomas Bach was describing a meeting at IOC headquarters that he held with North Korean Sports Minister Kim Il-Guk and his South Korean counterpart Do Jong-hwan South Korea’s Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism on January 20, 2018.
He is responding to recent events which are working to make a peace Olympics a reality.
What are some of these achievements?
A resolution GA Res (A/72/L.5) approving a peace Olympics was passed by the UN General Assembly on November 3, 2017. The Resolution encouraged the cessation of any military activities during the period from 10 days before the beginning of the Olympic Games to 10 days after the Games end. The Olympic Games begin Friday February 9, 2018 and last until Sunday, February 25, 2018.
Then the Paralympic games are scheduled starting on Thursday March 8 and ending on Sunday, March 18. This makes the peace period from 10 days before the Winter Olympics starting on Wednesday, January 31, 2018 until 10 days after the Paralympics ending on Wednesday, March 28.
Republic of Korea President Moon Jae-in asked the US to postpone the joint military maneuvers it was planning for the Korean Peninsula during the time of the Olympics. The US agreed. Also, the Chosun Ilbo conservative newspaper reported that a US nuclear powered submarine was trying to dock at Buson at the southern end of the Korean Peninsula. Instead it was sent to Jinhae to be out of international view. In the end it did not call at that Korean port either.
At face-to-face talks between representatives of the two Koreas, and also at the January 20 meeting with the IOC, some of the arrangements agreed upon included:
Three inter Korean routes that have been closed are being opened for travel by North Koreans coming to the games.
An Olympic Korean Declaration stated the agreement that for 22 athletes, 24 government officials and 21 media representatives from the DPRK will attend the games.
At the opening ceremony on February 9, both Koreas will march under the Unification flag, white with a blue silhouette of the peninsula in the middle of the flag.
Athletes from both Koreas will wear special uniforms similar to the Unification flag.
The acronym for team will be COR.
The original team of 23 South Koreans on the Women’s ice hockey team will have 12 North Korean members added to make it a joint team. Their Anthem will be the folk song Arirang.
The DPRK figure skater pair Ryom Tae- ok and Kim Ju-Sil will be permitted to compete.
There will be performances of cultural events. The 140 member Samjiyon Orchestra from the DPRK will perform once in Seoul and once in Gangneung.
These are but some of the important developments that have been achieved in a relatively short period of time.
On January 19, the First Vice Foreign Minister from the ROK Lim Sung-nam met with the U.N Secretary General in New York. He asked for the Secretary General’s support and attention to these important developments between the Koreas. Secretary General Guterres promised the UN would do all in its power to help to produce progress in the inter-Korean talks.
Referring to the planned joint entrance by the Korean athletes, IOC President Bach is quoted as saying:
“I am sure this will be a very emotional moment not only for all Koreans but also for the entire world.” Bach added, “Coming myself from a formerly divided country (Germany), it is a moment that I am also personally looking forward to with great anticipation and great emotion.”
All Koreans and all peace loving people deserve this ray of hope.