May 3, 2018 / 6:44 PM / 3 months ago

IOC to support Korea peace talks with sports initiatives: Bach

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (Reuters) - The International Olympic Committee (IOC), at the request of North and South Korea, will support peace talks on the Korean peninsula with sports initiatives, IOC President Thomas Bach said on Thursday.

Thomas Bach, President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) attends a news conference after an Executive Board meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland, May 3, 2018. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

The countries marched under a unified flag at the opening and closing ceremonies of February’s Winter Olympics in South Korea’s Pyeongchang as tense relations between the countries started to thaw.

North and South Korea also fielded a joint women’s ice hockey team at the Games after which Bach visited the North and met with the country’s leader Kim Jong Un.

“We have committed ourselves to the request of both (countries) to accompany peace talks through sports initiatives and meetings, encounters and support for athletes,” Bach told reporters.

“There is more to come on short notice, in mid-term and long-term with regard to the upcoming Youth Olympics (in October in Buenos Aires), Tokyo 2020 Olympics and with the youth Games in Lausanne in 2020 and then of course the winter Games in Beijing 2022.”

On Thursday the two Koreas agreed to field a combined women’s team at the table tennis world championships after the nations decided not to compete against each other in the quarter-finals.

Bach said politicians had used the momentum created by the Olympic Games to further push for peace between the two nations.

The IOC had supported several North Korean athletes with cash and in-kind support to help them qualify for the Pyeongchang Games.

“We hope this momentum keeps going and that the governments will come to results which will mean peace on the Korean peninsula and means also peace for the world,” he said.

“This Olympic momentum is continuing and the political side now has obviously used this momentum to enter into peace talks for the Korean peninsula.”

Last week South Korean President Moon Jae-in and the North’s Kim had their first meeting with both pledging to improve ties days after the North surprised the world by declaring it would dismantle its nuclear test site.

Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Christian Radnedge

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