The world's skating governing body said Thursday that North Korea has met the "technical requirements" to participate in the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea.
The International Skating Union (ISU) also said it will refer the matter of North Korea's late entry in figure skating to the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
The ISU welcomed talks between Seoul and Pyongyang earlier this week that resulted in North Korea's offer to participate in the Feb. 9-25 PyeongChang Winter Games. The size of the North's athletic delegation will be determined later by the IOC, which will host a meeting with officials from both Koreas on Jan. 20 to discuss the matter.
In September, the North Korean pairs figure skating team of Ryom Tae-ok and Kim Ju-sik qualified for PyeongChang 2018, but their national Olympic committee missed an Oct. 30 deadline to confirm their participation. The available spot has been since given to Japan, the next in line for qualification.
|In this Associated Press file photo taken Sept. 28, 2017, North Korean pairs figure skaters Ryom Tae-ok (L) and Kim Ju-sik perform their short program during the Nebelhorn Trophy in Oberstdorf, Germany. (Yonhap)|
The ISU said the door is still open for Ryom and Kim to skate at the Olympics.
"The ISU confirms that the (North Korean) competitors in pairs had met all the necessary technical requirements to participate in the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games," the ISU said in a statement. "In the case of a formal (North Korean) request for a late entry, the matter would have to be referred to the IOC for a final decision relating to the late entry, as well as the increase of participants in the 2018 Olympic pairs skating competition."
Ryom and Kim won the bronze medal at last year's Asian Winter Games in Sapporo, Japan. North Korea has grabbed only one silver and one bronze medal in its eight previous Olympic Winter Games appearances, but none from figure skating.
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