North and South Korean hockey players hold first joint training session ahead of Winter Olympics

The two nations will march under a single flag at the opening ceremony in PyeongChang

Alina Polianskaya
Sunday 28 January 2018 22:47
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North and South Korea unite as one under the Korean flag at 1991 World Table Tennis Championships

A joint Korean women’s hockey team have practised together for the first team on Sunday, after North and South Korea decided to join forces for the first time ever at an Olympic competition.

The team, which consists of 35 players in total – 12 North Koreans and 23 South Koreans – is getting ready to compete at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, which begin on 9 February.

The two Koreas have also agreed to march under a single flag at the opening ceremony, according to Seoul's Unification Ministry.

The nations came together to discuss the Olympics earlier this month. The talks are seen as an important step as it is the first time the North and South have been in dialogue in around two years.

The show of unity has temporarily offered some respite from the growing concerns over North Korea’s nuclear ambition.

Each Korean country has sent their own women’s hockey coach, with Sarah Murray from the South and ultimately in control of the joint team, and Pak Chol-ho from the North.

While the unified Korean team consists of more players than all other countries, who each bring 23, like every other team they will only be allowed to have 22 players on the game roster.

Approval was given for the united team by the International Olympic Committee.

The team will take on Switzerland on 10 February, Sweden on 12 February and Japan on 14 February, at the Kwandong Hockey Centre in Gangneung.

In the past the two Koreas have sent joint teams for table tennis and youth football world championships, but have never joined forces for the Olympics.

North Korea are sending a total of 22 athletes to compete in the Winter Olympics, who will compete in hockey, figure skating, short track speed skating, Alpine skiing and cross-country skiing.

They will also send a 230-person cheering squad as part of the country's 550-strong delegation.

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