The International Olympic Committee has “extended the deadline” for North Korea’s participation in the Winter Olympics, it announced on Monday.
“We will be as flexible as we can be,” an IOC spokesman told AFP over North Korea sending a team to the Pyeongchang Games in South Korea.
Talks between the two Koreas hosted by IOC president Thomas Bach will take place at the Olympic movement’s headquarters in Lausanne on Tuesday.
“We welcome the discussion which will take place… between the governments of the Republic of Korea (ROK) and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK),” the IOC said.
“The IOC has been having discussions with both sides for a long time.
“In doing so we have kept the door open by extending the deadline for registration, and by offering support to North Korean athletes in the qualification process, whilst always respecting United Nations sanctions.”
On Saturday, North Korea Olympic body member Chang Ung said the isolated state was “likely to participate” in the Pyeongchang Games from February 9-25, Kyodo news agency reported.
Tuesday’s Lausanne summit comes days after the two Koreas agreed to hold their first official dialogue in more than two years to discuss the North’s participation in the Winter Olympics.
The tentative rapprochement comes after the North’s leader Kim Jong-Un warned in his New Year speech that he had a nuclear button on his desk, but also said Pyongyang could send a team to the Olympics.
The IOC in its statement Monday emphasised that its mission was “always to ensure the participation of all qualified athletes, beyond all political tensions and divisions.
“With regard to the very particular situation on the Korean peninsula we need the political commitment from all parties concerned to make such a participation possible,” it added.
“Once this political commitment is clear the IOC will take the final decision.”