Published: Tue, April 03, 2018
Global Media | By Garry Long

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

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

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has reportedly committed to his country participating at Tokyo 2020 and Beijing 2022 during a meeting with International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach. The IOC said Bach's trip would last until March 31, and came on the heels of an invitation extended by Pyongyang in January.

He said Kim expressed his appreciation for the IOC's role in helping North Korea compete at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in South Korea last month.

"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.

"We had a very fruitful meeting where it became clear that the supreme leader has a clear vision of the role that sport can play in a society with regard to education, with regard to health", Bach said.

After Kim made a surprise trip this week to Beijing to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping, his engagement with the worldwide community has sparked speculation that he may try to meet other leaders ahead of summits with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and US President Donald Trump.

Kim is to meet with South Korean President Moon Jae-in on April 27.

"And this commitment was fully supported by the supreme leader", he said.

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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.

"The IOC will make a proposal for a potential joint march or potential other joint activities for Tokyo and then maybe also for Beijing at the appropriate time", he added.

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 added that Kim told him the North's participation at Pyeongchang and marching together with South Korean athletes were an "important contribution to a peaceful dialogue".

Earlier on March 9, North Korea had sent a 20-member delegation to South Korea for participating in the PyeongChang Paralympics event. Kim is to meet U.S. President Donald Trump by May, though the exact date and location of that summit have not been announced.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is seen writing, in this still image taken from video released on Wednesday. "Now, on the political level, the discussions can continue in the Olympic spirit of understanding and peace".

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