June 26, 2017 12:23
The International Olympic Committee on Friday expressed interest in a proposal from Sports Minister Do Jong-hwan to use North Korea's Masikryong Ski Resort as a venue for the 2018 Winter Olympics.
"We are happy to discuss his ideas. The Olympic movement is always about building bridges, never about erecting walls," the BBC quoted an IOC spokesperson as saying.
During a visit to Pyeongchang last week, Do said North Korea's participation should help promote inter-Korean peace. "Hopefully we'll be able to ease lingering tensions as we bring North Korea on board," he said. "North Korea says the Masikryong Ski Resort was built according to global standards and I intend to discuss this" with North Korean IOC member Chang Ung.
The ski resort opened in 2014 after the North spent US$300 million building it. It covers 14 million sq.m of land and has 10 slopes as well as a hotel and cable car.
But many obstacles must be overcome first. The two Koreas need to discuss how to transport athletes, officials and spectators back and forth through the heavily-fortified border and how to accommodate them.
There is very little time to test the facilities and make the necessary improvements to Olympic standards.
Perhaps events like snowboarding and cross country skiing, which are less affected by a change of venue, could be moved there, but other alpine events would be too difficult.
"In alpine events athletes get very nervous about the slightest changes to the quality of snow or courses, and practicing in Masikryong could make things very inconvenient for the athletes," said one Winter Olympics coach.
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