March 09, 2018 10:59
The teams from the two Koreas will march separately at the opening ceremony of the Winter Paralympics in Pyeongchang on Friday.
The decision came only a day before the opening because of a dispute over the inclusion of South Korea's easternmost islets of Dokdo on a "unification flag" that the two Koreas had hoped to march under.
In talks held Thursday, North Korean sports officials said it was "intolerable" that Dokdo cannot be marked on the flag due to objections from Japan, which maintains a flimsy colonial claim to the islands. That would make their inclusion, which would be barely visible to the naked eye from a few yards away, "political" and therefore banned under Olympic rules.
Officials from the International Paralympic Committee, who were also attending the talks, expressed opposition to the idea.
The two Korean teams marched together under a unification flag without Dokdo during the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics on Feb. 9.
North Korean officials apparently wanted to alter the flag for the Paralympics to show Dokdo. South Korean sports officials tried to persuade their North Korean counterparts to drop the idea, but to no avail.
They finally agreed Thursday evening that their teams will march separately under their own national flags. As a result, the North Korean athletes will be the 34th to march in according to the alphabetical order of their countries' names, and the South Koreans as the host country the 49th and last.
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