IOC President Thomas Bach visits North Korea after its participation in Olympics


Kim took Thomas Bach to a game of women's football during a three-day visit to thank him for helping to bring about a "dramatic thawing" of tensions on the Korean peninsula.

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.

Bach is now on a three-day visit to North Korea as he seeks to capitalise in the cooling of regional tensions prompted in part by North Korean participation at last month's Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

Bach told reporters after landing in Beijing that his talks with Kim on Friday had been "very open and fruitful".

"It is the mission of the International Olympic Committee always to build bridges, and by building these bridges through sport we hope that we can make a contribution to the ongoing political talks".

North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency published a report on the meeting on Saturday, saying that Bach expressed his "heartfelt thanks" to Kim over the North's participation in the Pyeongchang Games that made the event "symbolic of peace". He is the first foreign official to meet Kim since the North Korean leader returned earlier this week from a summit in Beijing with the Chinese president, Xi Jinping.

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"The supreme leader of DPRK is considering support (for sports development)".

During the Pyeongchang Olympics, Bach said he was happy with the role the International Olympic Committee played in getting North Korea and South Korea together at the games.

"We have an agreement with regard to the participation of athletes from DPRK in the Olympic Games at Tokyo in 2020 as well as the Winter Olympic Games of Beijing in 2022".

On whether South and North Korea would show a united front at the upcoming Games, Bach said the International Olympic Committee will propose at the "appropriate time" that the two Koreas march together or take part in joint activities.

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. After his summit with Moon, Kim is to meet President Donald Trump by May, though the date and location of that summit have not been announced.