North Korea expresses interest in Tokyo, Beijing Olympics

Olympic Committee President Meets With Kim Jong Un in North Korea

Olympic Committee President Meets With Kim Jong Un in North Korea

The IOC said Bach's delegation will have discussions on the "further development of sport in the DPRK after the successful participation of athletes at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018; and the preparation of athletes from the NOC [National Olympic Committee] of the DPRK with the objective of qualifying for and participating in the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 and Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022, as well as the Youth Olympic Games 2020 and 2022". The IOC said Bach's trip would last until March 31, and came on the heels of an invitation extended by Pyongyang in January.

IOC President Bach arrived in North Korea on Thursday after playing a key role in allowing it to participate in last month's Pyeongchang Olympic Games in South Korea.

"Minister of Physical Culture and Sports Kim Il-guk, who is chairman of the DPRK Olympic Committee, met and had a talk with the visiting delegation of the IOC led by President Thomas Bach at the Mansudae Assembly Hall on Friday", the Korean Central News Agency reported.

It was not known if Bach would meet during his three-day visit with leader Kim Jong Un, who has just returned from a summit in Beijing with Chinese President Xi Jinping, his first known trip overseas as leader. Most notably, Kim sent his younger sister, Kim Yo-jong, to the South to watch the opening ceremony and have talks with President Moon Jae-in.

"This commitment has been fully supported by the supreme leader Kim Jong Un in a meeting we had this afternoon", he said.

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Kim in return expressed his gratitude towards the IOC's unconditional cooperation with the North Korea during the Olympics event in spite of rough political conditions between the two Koreas. He called for further co-operation with the International Olympic Committee in developing winter sports and other sports activities in North Korea, the agency said.

Kim praised Bach and the International Olympic Committee for helping with mediation and getting North Korea to join this year's Winter Olympics in South Korea.

A North Korean team has participated at every addition of the Summer Olympics since they boycotted Seoul 1988.

The exact reasons behind Kim's seeming change of tactics remain something of a mystery. Of the 22 North Korean athletes who competed in the Pyeongchang Olympics, only two won places on merit and the other 20 were granted spots by the IOC.

Raising the level of North Korean athletes has been high on Kim's agenda since he became leader.

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