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US Senator Says Country Should Pull Out of Winter Olympics if North Korea Participates

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Photo: IOC/CHUNG SUNG-JUN

United States Senator Lindsey Graham has suggested that the country should not attend Pyeongchang 2018 if North Korea participates in the Winter Olympics.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un announced his country would be willing to take part at next month’s Games in a New Year’s message.

Kim claimed that North Korea planned to open talks with its neighbors in Seoul shortly to negotiate its team’s participation.

At a press conference yesterday, South Korea’s Minister of Unification, Cho Myoung-Gyon, proposed the talks take place on January 9.

A line of communication between North Korea and South Korea was reopened today following two years of dormancy.

It raises the prospect of North Korean athletes appearing at the Games, which has been a goal of Pyeongchang 2018 and the South Korean Government.

Graham has opposed North Korean involvement, claiming an appearance from their team at the Games would give them legitimacy.

“Allowing Kim Jong Un’s North Korea to participate in Winter Olympics would give legitimacy to the most illegitimate regime on the planet,” he tweeted.

“I’m confident South Korea will reject this absurd overture and fully believe that if North Korea goes to the Winter Olympics, we do not.”

The Republican Senator previously suggested that the US should boycott the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics if Russia gave whistleblower Edward Snowden asylum.

It appears unlikely the US would opt out of competing at the Games, should North Korea ultimately participate.

Talks between North and South Korea could take place at Panmunjeom, which is located in the demilitarised zone between the two countries and is also known as the Joint Security Area.

The location was where the Korean Armistice Agreement was signed in 1953, which paused the Korean War.

Pairs skaters Ryom Tae-Ok and Kim Ju-Sik are the only North Korean athletes to have so far qualified for Pyeongchang 2018.

They missed a deadline last month to accept their spot, although they could still be allowed to participate.

It remains possible that other athletes from North Korea could also be given wildcards.

While Kim suggested the country may take part in the Games during his New Year address, the North Korean leader also warned that 2017 was the year that his nation became a fully fledged nuclear power.

He called on South Korea to abandon plans to hold military exercises with the US next February and March.

The Winter Olympics will be held between February 9 and 25.

By Michael Pavitt

Republished with permission from insidethegames.biz

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