International Ice Hockey Federation

Together on the ice

Together on the ice

Unified Korea Olympic team set to play in PyeongChang

Published 15.08.2018 16:17 GMT+11 | Author Adam Steiss w/ files from IOC
Together on the ice
North and South Korean players got together for a group photo to celebrate the International Day for Peace and Sport in 2017.
For the first time in Olympic history, a combined ice hockey team of South and North Korean players will compete together in the Olympic Winter Games.

The unified Korea team was confirmed on Saturday following a meeting between the IOC and a delegation of North and South Korean officials in Lausanne, Switzerland.

“This would have seemed impossible only a few weeks ago,” said IOC President Thomas Bach. “Today is a great moment for the Olympic Movement, because the Olympic spirit has brought us all together.”

“These great results could only be achieved with the enthusiastic cooperation of the Olympic Winter Sports Federations, in particular the International Ski Federation, the International Ice Hockey Federation, and the International Skating Union.”

For ice hockey, the IOC decided to allow the two National Olympic Committees, for the first time in their Olympic history, to form a unified team in a sport. This unified women’s ice hockey team will be created by adding 12 players and one official from the NOC of the DPRK to the existing ROK Olympic squad of 23 players. With respect to fair play and the other competing teams, only 22 players will be entitled to play in each game, as is the rule for all participating teams.

“For the first time in their Olympic history, the two Korean teams will unite to compete as one team in a sport," said Bach. "The unified women’s ice hockey team will be represented by the Korean Unification Flag and will compete as Korea, with the anthem being the song “Arirang” (a Korean folk song). This team will be a great symbol of the unifying power of Olympic sport.”

The head coach, responsible for the selection of the players, will be the ROK coach Sarah Murray. The head coach will at each match select at least three players from the NOC of the DPRK for the team.

The decision was welcomed by the International Ice Hockey Federation, which played a vital role to answer the sport-relevant questions regarding integration of the unified team into the women’s Olympic ice hockey tournament.

“The inclusion of North Korea players to the South Korean women’s ice hockey team marks a significant achievement for the Olympic ideal of peace through sport. It is an honour to have women’s ice hockey, one of the fastest-growing team sports in the world, as the platform for this unprecedented initiative between these two countries,” said IIHF President René Fasel.

At the request of the IOC, the IIHF evaluated the best method for the integration of North Korean players into the South Korean teams and made recommendations to the IOC and the delegations.

The NOC of DPRK will officially submit to the IIHF a list of players to be added to the Olympic squad at a later date. The two participating NOCs will also select the new uniform to represent the historic COR team.

“This initiative by North and South Korea offers a tremendous opportunity to use ice hockey, one of the core team sports of the Olympic Winter Games, as a tool to foster create new connections and develop closer bonds across the Korea Peninsula. The IIHF will work with all the participating teams to make sure this endeavor for peace through sport is a success.”

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