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The 2018 Winter Olympics are scheduled to be held in Pyeongchang, South Korea, in February, and the organizers are hopeful that North Korea will participate and make the event a grand success. The International Olympic Committee expects the games to bring the two Koreas closer and be a positive step to normalize relations and reduce concerns related to the possible impact of nuclear weapons.

Two figure skaters are the first athletes [VIDEO] from North Korea to qualify for the upcoming sports event in South Korea, but it is not clear whether the authorities in Pyongyang will allow them to participate.

Sports could ease tensions

The New York Times reports that sports activities do take place between North Korea and South Korea.

In the current year, the North has sent its women’s hockey team and a taekwondo team to compete in the South. However, the 2018 Winter Olympics is a different proposition and it is to be seen whether the figure skaters make it to the world stage.

Pyongyang boycotted the 1988 Summer Olympics held in Seoul and the unpredictable nature of Kim Jong-un adds an element of uncertainty. There is no indication that tension on the Korean peninsula could reduce. However, North Korea invested time and money to train the figure skaters in Canada and bring them up to international standards. Therefore, they could be seen in action at the Olympic Games.

Anita DeFrantz, a vice president of the International Olympic Committee from the United States, feels that sports are important because it provides opportunities for people to bond with each other.

This is especially important for nations that are not friendly with other nations.

Will the strategy help to bring peace?

According to officials from South Korea, the 2018 Winter Olympics has been planned to involve and encourage the participation of North Korea.

President Moon Jae-in of South Korea, after taking office, had expressed a desire to mend relations with the North and had suggested that sports could be a bonding agent. He did not get the expected response but has not lost hope.

The situation in the region is tense, with threats and counter-threats between Kim Jong-un and United States President Donald Trump that could have serious repercussions. South Korea could get caught in the crossfire because it is an ally of the United States. Moon Jae-in is aware of the possible consequences and wants to avoid escalating the tension. That is another reason why he wants to pursue the channel of sports and focus on the forthcoming games in his home country.