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South Korea proposes unified Korea Olympic women’s hockey team

APTOPIX South Korea Ice Hockey Women World Championship

North Korean women ice hockey players line up as South Koreans wave the Korean reunification flags after IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship Division II Group A game against the Netherlands in Gangneung, South Korea, Monday, April 3, 2017. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)


South Korea proposed adding North Korean players to its Olympic women’s hockey team, a government sports official said Friday, according to Yonhap News Agency.

“Even if we have one Korean team in women’s hockey, we’ll make sure it will not come at the expense of South Korean players,” the official said, according to the report, which added that a proposal was also put forth to have the two Koreas march together in the Feb. 9 Opening Ceremony.

North Korea agreed Tuesday to send a delegation to the PyeongChang Olympics, though the nation currently has no qualified athletes.

Officials from both Koreas and the IOC are set to meet Jan. 20 to discuss the North’s Olympic participation.

The IOC can add North Korean athletes to the Winter Games and is expected to invite a North Korean pairs figure skating team.

There were reports last year of a possible unified Korean Olympic women’s hockey team in PyeongChang, but that plan ran into the roadblock of potentially costing South Korean national-team players Olympic spots.

Yonhap reported Friday that the South Korea Olympic Committee hopes it would be allowed to expand the women’s hockey roster from 23 players to 35 to accommodate North Koreans without cutting any South Koreans.

It’s unknown if North Korea has agreed to a potential unified team.

North Korea sent its women’s hockey team to a lower-level world championship tournament in South Korea in April. The two Koreas played, with the South winning 3-0.

The North Korean team was cheered by fans waving the blue-and-white “unification” flag seen when the two nations marched together at the Olympic Opening Ceremonies in 2000 and 2004.

South Korea is fielding its first Olympic hockey teams this year, receiving spots as the host nation.

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