IOC President Thomas Bach was in the North Korean capital Pyongyang on Friday for meetings with political and sports leaders. Following an extensive “four eyes” meeting with Kim Jong-un, it was confirmed that the country is committed to its athletes competing at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 and the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022, as well as the Summer Youth Olympic Games Buenos Aires 2018 and the Winter Youth Olympic Games Lausanne 2020.
The Supreme Leader also praised President Bach and the IOC for the role they had played in mediating and bringing about an agreement for the participation of the National Olympic Committee (NOC) of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) in the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018.
During the visit, which came at the invitation of the DPRK NOC, President Bach expressed his appreciation for the participation of the DPRK NOC athletes at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018. “In particular, the joint march sent a strong message of peace,” President Bach said. “Now, on the political level, the discussions can continue in the Olympic spirit of understanding and peace. We will continue to accompany this political dialogue through sport, by helping athletes to prepare for and compete in future editions of the Olympic Games,” he said. This support has already begun, with immediate assistance to athletes from the DPRK NOC to compete in the table tennis World Championships, which are taking place in Sweden this April.
Earlier in the day, President Bach met representatives of the DPRK NOC, led by its President, Kim Il-guk, who is also the country’s Sports Minister. In a packed agenda, President Bach also discussed the IOC’s support for the athletes and sport in the country with the two Vice-Chairmen of the Workers’ Party, Choe Hwi, who is also Chairman of the National Sports Guidance Committee, and Choe Ryong-hae, who is also Vice-Chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the DPRK.
The visit finished with a dinner hosted by the President of the Praesidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly, Kim Yong-nam, who had led the DPRK delegation to the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018.
As well as discussing help for and future participation of athletes, President Bach visited several sporting facilities in an impressive city-centre complex, where he met athletes, Olympians and future potential competitors in the Olympic Games, in swimming, weightlifting and table tennis. He also met the figure skating pair, Ryom Tae-ok and Kim Ju-sik, who had competed in the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018.
President Bach was accompanied throughout the visit by the IOC Member from North Korea, Professor Ung Chang.
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