PyeongChang 2018 Determining DPRK Protocols

(ATR) Also: U.S. President Trump and South Korea President Moon agree to delay military drills for Olympics.

(ATR) Just over a month until the 2018 Olympic Games, PyeongChang 2018 organizers are exploring protocols for North Korean athletes at the Games.

A spokesperson for the organizing committee confirmed to Around the Rings that final protocols for a potential North Korean delegation are in "beginning stages" of internal discussion.

"This is not the first time [North Korean] athletes competed in Korea; so there is a protocol in place," the spokesperson said. "Discussions are held with the government, but we will look at previous cases."

PyeongChang 2018 will discuss with three different ministries in the South Korean government, the spokesperson said. The Ministry of Unification, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Ministry of Culture Sports and Tourism will all help in crafting necessary protocols.

North Korea sent a delegation of 150 athletes and 123 officials to the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon. The country finished in the top 10 in total medals, and was greeted to rousing applause when entering the Games’ Opening Ceremony. Daily reports of the North Korean delegation were produced by Incheon organizers, and media were restricted from attending training sessions without prior approval.

North Korea getting a big ovation at#incheon2014

A post shared by Aaron Bauer (@aaron_bauer4) on Sep 19, 2014 at 4:58am PDT

One issue that will certainly need to be addressed will be the flying of the North Korean flag at the Olympic Village or around PyeongChang and Gangneung. Ahead of the 2014 Games organizers removed flags of all participating countries around Incheon, and limited them to inside stadiums and the Asiad Village.

Spectators were also barred from bringing their own North Korean flags to the stadiums. As a result many brought the Unification Flag used at the Sydney 2000 Olympics Opening Ceremony to different events.

North Korea also participated at the 2002 Asian Games in the South Korean city of Busan. The country boycotted the 1988 Olympics in Seoul.

The IOC told ATRthat it has "nothing to add," about the drafting of any protocols for North Korean athletes besides a statement issued earlier this week in support of restoring diplomatic talks.

"The IOC welcomes the mutual intention of the governments of the Republic of Korea and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to start direct talks about the participation of athletes from DPRK in the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018," the IOC statement read.

"In this context the IOC continues its discussions with the NOC of DPRK. To allow for such a participation in respect of the Olympic Charter, the IOC is keeping its invitation for a delegation of the NOC of DPRK open and will take the final decision in due time."

South Korea’s Unification Ministry told local media that a second day of talks with North Korean counterparts has not produced a date for face-to-face dialogue. South Korea proposed discussions on Jan. 9 to discuss sending a delegation to the PyeongChang Games.

Yonhap reported that Son Gwon Ri, North Korean head of inter-Korean affairs, said North Korea would discuss Olympic participation in a "sincere manner". Yesterday, North Korea resumed dialogue in a secure hotline in the joint village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone. The initial talks were reported as technical to ensure the hotline worked.

"We will calmly wait for the North's reply and review the next steps," a member of the South Korean Unification Ministry said to Yonhap.

United States President Donald Trump weighed in on talks for the first time since North Korea initiated communication, appearing to take credit for the dialogue.

"With all of the failed ‘experts’ weighing in, does anybody really believe that talks and dialogue would be going on between North and South Korea right now if I wasn’t firm, strong and willing to commit our total ‘might’ against the North," Trump tweeted. "Fools, but talks are a good thing!"

Donald Trump and South Korean President Jae In Moon spoke and agreed to halt joint military drills during the Olympics, according to a release from the Blue House. Traditionally the drills are held in late February and early March. The drills routinely draw ire from North Korean officials.

Trump agreed to the delay after being prompted by Moon. Yonhap reported that Trump told Moon that he could relay the information to North Korean authorities.

A readout from the White House said the leaders "agreed to de-conflict the Olympics and our military exercises so that United States and Republic of Korea forces can focus on ensuring the security of the Games."

A statement from the Blue House provided to ATRstated that Trump said he supported dialogue with North Korea "100 percent". In recent days White House press secretary Sarah Sanders stopped short of saying the U.S. supported talks, but added the administration’s policy of North Korea had not changed.

"We will work closely with the United States during the process of inter-Korean dialogue, and we are confident that inter-Korean dialogue will help to create an atmosphere of dialogue between the United States and North Korea to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue," the release quoted Moon as saying on the call with Trump.

The Blue House readout said Trump would include his family in the "high level" delegation to the 2018 Games. ATR understands that the delegation is still under consideration and it is not clear who from the Trump family would go to South Korea.

A spokesperson from the Blue House confirmed Trump's discussion about the delegation, but added "it is not clear if [he said] member or members (plural)".

Written by Aaron Bauer

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