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[PyeongChang 2018] IIHF welcomes unified inter-Korean ice hockey team

Jan. 19, 2018 - 10:52 By Yonhap

The International Ice Hockey Federation has expressed support for the creation of a unified inter-Korean women's ice hockey team for the upcoming PyeongChang Winter Olympics, a US broadcaster reported Friday.

The two Koreas agreed at their working-level talks on Wednesday to field the joint squad at the Feb. 9-25 Games. The International Olympic Committee will review the agreement and determine the size of the unified roster on Saturday. South Korea hopes the roster will be expanded to as many as 35 from the already-set 22, after adding some North Korean players. 

South and North Korean players pose after their Division II, Group A match at the IIHF Women`s World Championship, at Gangneung Hockey Centre in the namesake city, 237 kilometers east of Seoul, on April 6, 2017. (Yonhap)

The world's ice hockey governing body said that the joint team positively reflects an Olympic ideal of realizing social development and peace through sports, particularly considering the division of the Korean Peninsula, Voice of America said, citing an e-mail from the organization.

But the IIHF refused to comment on the expansion of the roster, saying it will announce its stance on the issue after the IOC makes its final decision, according to the broadcaster.

Meanwhile, the IOC said in an e-mail the same day that there are many things to review in relation to the inter-Korean proposal, as it will have effect on other national Olympic committees and athletes, the broadcaster said.

On Wednesday, Janos Kick, head of communications for the Switzerland Ice Hockey Federation, told Yonhap News Agency, "In terms of sports and for all teams who invest a lot of money and resources in their women's teams, we are not in favor of this (a unified Korea team) since it's not fair and distorts competition."

Sixth-ranked Switzerland is 22nd-ranked South Korea's first opponent in Group B, which also includes Sweden and Japan. (Yonhap)