first_imgFILE – In this Sept. 1, 2017, file photo, Lee Hee-beom, center, president of the Pyeongchang Organizing Committee for the 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, and attendance are silhouetted as they participate in a launching ceremony of the commemorative coins and bank notes for the Games, in Seoul, South Korea. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon, File)Kim Jong-Un on Monday gave the first indication that North Korea could participate in next month’s Winter Olympics in the South, despite tensions over Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program.“I sincerely hope the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics will be staged successfully,” said Kim, the North Korean leader, in his new year’s address to the nation.ADVERTISEMENT Balkman returns to Philippine basketball as Alab import Jiro Manio arrested for stabbing man in Marikina Lights inside SMX hall flicker as Duterte rants vs Ayala, Pangilinan anew LATEST STORIES Brian Heruela arrival bolsters Phoenix backcourt, defense The pair could still be invited to compete by the International Olympic Committee.“The IOC says the North would be able to take part in any event it wants,” said Lee. “But North Korea is likely to send athletes to figure skating, short track skating, cross country and women’s ice hockey.”The Winter Olympic main venues are just 80 kilometers (50 miles) from the heavily fortified border with the North and the build-up to the event has been overshadowed by tensions running high over the Pyongyang’s escalating nuclear and missile tests.Kim said the Olympics would “serve as a good chance to display our Korean people’s grace toward the world.”“The year 2018 is a significant year for both the North and the South, with the North marking the 70th anniversary of its birth and the South hosting the Winter Olympics.”‘Unstable state’ Kim did strike one note of caution. “The sharp military tension between the North and the South must be eased and a peaceful atmosphere should be in place,” he said.Professor Kim Hyun-Wook at the Korea National Diplomatic Academy said the North was trying to use the Olympics to improve ties with the South despite tensions with the US showing no signs of abating.“The US will find it awkward to put brakes on inter-Korean dialogue focused on Pyeongchang,” he said.North Korea’s past participation in sporting events in the South has largely depended on the political and military situation, though they did send a full team to the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, near Seoul. Scottie Thompson also worthy of Finals MVP, thinks Cone Lee Hee-Beom, the head of the Pyeongchang Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (POCOG) told AFP: “We actively welcome the North’s suggestion that it is willing to engage in talks for the participation in the Olympics.“We’ve been preparing for the Olympics on the assumption that the North will eventually take part in the games,” he said, adding that POCOG have in place protocols for accommodation and transport for the North’s athletes.‘Peace Olympics’Seoul and POCOG have billed the Games, which open on February 9, as a “peace Olympics” and have been keen for the North to take part.Two North Korean athletes — pairs figure skaters Ryom Tae-Ok and Kim Ju-Sik — qualified for the Games but the North Korean Olympic Committee missed an October 30 deadline to confirm to the International Skating Union that they would participate.ADVERTISEMENT Steam emission over Taal’s main crater ‘steady’ for past 24 hours Meralco ‘never the same’ after Almazan injury in PBA Finalscenter_img “It is quite noteworthy that the North’s leader himself says the North is willing to participate in Pyeongchang,” Professor Yang Moo-Jin of the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul told AFP. “The chances of the North coming to the Olympics now seem to be more than 80 percent.”North and South Korea have been divided by a demilitarized zone since the end of the 1950-53 Korean war.South Korean president Moon Jae-In last month proposed delaying Seoul’s annual joint military exercises with the US until after the Games.The Key Resolve and Foal Eagle drills usually start in late February or early March and run until the end of April, usually contributing to a spike in tensions, with Pyongyang condemning the exercises as rehearsals for invasion.Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next OSG plea to revoke ABS-CBN franchise ’a duplicitous move’ – Lacson Redemption is sweet for Ginebra, Scottie Thompson “We are willing to take necessary measures including to dispatch our delegation.“For this purpose, authorities of the North and South would be able to meet in the near future,” he said.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSTim Cone, Ginebra set their sights on elusive All-Filipino crownSPORTSGinebra beats Meralco again to capture PBA Governors’ Cup titleSPORTSAfter winning title, time for LA Tenorio to give back to Batangas folkSeoul’s presidential Blue House responded positively to Kim’s proposal for talks about sending a delegation to the Games.“We welcome it,” a statement said. “Should the Olympics be staged successfully, it will contribute to peace not only on the Korean peninsula but in the region and the world as well.” MOST READ OSG plea to revoke ABS-CBN franchise ’a duplicitous move’ – Lacson Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard PLAY LIST 02:14Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard02:56NCRPO pledges to donate P3.5 million to victims of Taal eruption00:56Heavy rain brings some relief in Australia02:37Calm moments allow Taal folks some respite03:23Negosyo sa Tagaytay City, bagsak sa pag-aalboroto ng Bulkang Taal01:13Christian Standhardinger wins PBA Best Player award Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. 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