A pair of North Korean figure skaters have given up their chance to compete in the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. The skaters, the North's only athletes to qualify for the Olympics, failed to register for the event by the deadline.
According to the Korea Skating Union on Thursday, Ryom Tae-ok, 18, and Kim Ju-sik, 25, had not signed up for the Pyeongchang Olympics as of Oct. 30, the International Skating Union's deadline for Olympic registration for skaters who earned Olympic berths at the Nebelhorn Trophy event in September.
Ryom and Kim claimed one of the last four Olympic berths for the pair skating event by scoring 180.09 points overall at the Nebelhorn Trophy.
"Not submitting an application to the ISU is usually interpreted as forfeiting the spot," a KSU official said.
According to NBC, which owns the rights to broadcast the Pyeongchang Olympics, the North Koreans' spot has been given to Japan, which is required to notify the ISU of their intention to participate by Dec. 21.
Japan is unlikely to pass up the opportunity.
It was the first time North Korean athletes qualified for the Olympics on merit since the men's singles figure skating event at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada. No North Korean athletes qualified for the 2014 games in Sochi, Russia.
The North has opted out of all other competitions for Pyeongchang. It did not participate in any cross-country skiing events this season, and North Korean short-track speed skaters skipped the final two events at the Audi ISU World Cup Series, where they could have earned tickets to Pyeongchang.
North Korea's only remaining route to the Olympics, which start in February, would be through a wild card granted by the International Olympic Committee. The IOC intends to get North Korea to join the event with the hope of staging an "Olympics for Peace."