Olympics 2018: North Korea to send 22 athletes

United States' Becca Hamilton releases the stone during a match against Switzerland in the Women's World Curling Championship in Beijing. No one will work longer hours at the Pyeongchang Olympics than

But the musicians and other performers being sent by Pyongyang, like any North Korean artist allowed to appear overseas, will have been well-trained in propagandizing for the country's authoritarian regime.

The two Koreas chose to march under a single flag at the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics to be held in South Korea later this year. North Korea will also be represented in skating and skiing, Reuters reports.

The 22 athletes will compete in three sports and a total of five disciplines, including figure skating, short-track speed skating, cross-country skiing and Alpine skiing, in addition to hockey.

The proposals from North and South Korea had to be approved by the IOC and Pyeongchang committee before they could go ahead.

Meanwhile, North Korea called the United Nations' (UN) Secretary General's remarks this week on its nuclear tests and ballistic missile launches "biased" for not taking the United States to task on its own nuclear program, and attacked the United States and other nations for calling North Korea's nuclear program "violations of resolutions".

The North Korean delegation had been scheduled to visit yesterday but cancelled just before the visit with no explanation. The team will use the acronym COR and will be the first joint Korean sports team at an Olympic Games.

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

"The Olympic Games are always about building bridges; they never erect walls", Bach said. He said: "The Olympic spirit is about respect, dialogue and understanding". "The Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 are hopefully opening the door to a brighter future on the Korean peninsula".

Jennifer Jones right and Kaitlyn Lawes left as they sit and watch their opponent during the women's curling semifinal game against Britain at the 2014 Winter Olympics in S

In the first of a series of preparatory visits, North Korean music and arts officials have arrived in South Korea to inspect sites for performances during the Olympics. At least three must be North Korean, the International Olympic Committee said.

Led by veteran troupe member, Hyon Song-wol, the art troupe is poised to showcase the world a softer side of the dictatorial Kim Jong-un regime, otherwise known for its ambitious nuclear and missile programme.

Three places have been allocated in cross-country skiing, with two men and one woman to compete, and another three in alpine skiing, again with two men and one woman to take part, the International Olympic Committee said.

The IOC approves the request of the NOCs of ROK and DPRK to have their delegations marching together as one under the name "Korea" at the Opening Ceremony.

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

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.

The ministry said it will try to gather further information from the North regarding the decision.

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