Korean delegates arrive in Seoul for pre-Olympics inspection

South Korea

GettyThe move also sparked Olympic outrage from South Koreans who signed petitions online

The two Koreas will compete as a unified team in the Olympics for the first time, though they have joined forces at other worldwide sports events before.

Critics of the unity deal believe that Kim Jong-un may try to leverage the Olympics to weaken US-led global pressure and sanctions toughened due to North Korea's prolonged program of nuclear tests and missile launches.

The Samjiyon art troupe, which comprises orchestra members, singers and dancers, is part of North Korea's Olympic delegation that also includes athletes, officials, journalists and a taekwondo demonstration team.

Seoul has proposed a joint ice hockey team, which triggered an angry response from athletes in the South suddenly being told they may have to play alongside total strangers.

"Such an agreement would have seemed impossible only a few weeks ago", said Bach, who did not take questions from worldwide media.

"The Olympic Games show us what the world could look like, if we were all guided by the Olympic spirit of respect and understanding", Bach said.

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In his remarks, Bach said the International Olympic Committee had been working for several years to address the "special situation" of having the 2018 Winter Olympics on the Korean Peninsula.

North Korea will also be represented in skating and skiing.

The deal over the unified women's ice hockey team sparked fury in the South, where critics accused Seoul of robbing some of its own players of the opportunity to compete at the Olympics for the sake of politics.

"The Olympic Winter Games are hopefully opening the door to a brighter future on the Korean peninsula".

The North Korean delegation's arrival came a day later than originally planned by the two Koreas.

Following the talks, the International Olympic Committee outlined details of how the 22 North Korean athletes will be accommodated in the Games, only weeks before they start.

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They believe that it is unfair that South Korean athletes are unable to compete in the Games due to political motives, despite qualifying for events.

They will also field a united women's ice hockey team.

Prior to the Games, the sides will carry out joint training for skiers at the North's Masik Pass resort and a cultural event at the Mount Kumgang resort, for which Seoul officials plan to visit the sites next week.

In a survey of 1,200 adults released by Seoul National University in October, 53.8 percent of the respondents said they supported the idea of reunification.

An additional berth in the pairs figure skating was made for North Korea's Ryom Tae Ok and Kim Ju Sik. "In this respect, I would like to express my most honest thanks to the governments of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) and the Republic of Korea (South Korea) for paving the way for these decisions in the Olympic spirit".

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