Winter Olympics: Ice hockey chief wants joint Korean team once more at Beijing 2022

The sight of North and South Korean skaters on the ice together has touched many spectators, with an IOC official even suggesting that the Korean team be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
The sight of North and South Korean skaters on the ice together has touched many spectators, with an IOC official even suggesting that the Korean team be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.PHOTO: REUTERS

GANGNEUNG, South Korea (AFP) - The unified Korean women's hockey team would be welcome at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics as a "message of peace", the head of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) said on Monday (Feb 19).

The team were hastily assembled following a landmark deal between the two Koreas only a few weeks before the Pyeongchang Games, and has 12 North Koreans on their roster.

They have found little success, having shipped 22 goals and scoring only once in four games. But they have been hailed as a potent symbol of the "Peace Olympics" in Pyeongchang.

"We are thinking about this, whether we should continue. I say, 'Why not'?" IIHF chief Rene Fasel told a press conference at the Gangneung Hockey Centre.

"I think that would be a very good operation to do it in 2022 to still keep the joint team in Beijing and have this unified team as a message of peace," he added.

Lee Hee Beom, head of the Pyeongchang organising committee, said the joint team was a "proud" achievement for the Games.

"Putting athletes from South and North Korea on the same team was a very proud moment, one that was a true symbol of peace," he said.

The sight of North and South Korean skaters on the ice together has touched many spectators, with an IOC official even suggesting that the Korean team be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

However, Lee admitted that the skaters had too little time to practise as a team, and said that he would like to see "a longer-term plan in place" for the Beijing Games.

The unified team will play their final Olympic game on Tuesday, a classification match against Sweden.