SEOUL-- The International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced Thursday it will convene a meeting with officials from the two Koreas this month to decide on the North's participation in the Winter Olympics in the South.
In a statement, the IOC said its president, Thomas Bach, will convene a four-party meeting on Jan. 20 at the IOC headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland, with representatives from the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics organizing committee and the national Olympic committees of both South and North Korea.
All organizations will be led by their respective presidents, and the meeting will also involve high-ranking government officials and the IOC members from both countries -- Ryu Seung-min from the South and Chang Ung from the North.
Chang is already in Switzerland this week for a separate meeting with Bach.
The announcement came on the heels of an offer made by North Korea on Tuesday to send its athletes to PyeongChang 2018, the first Winter Olympics to be held in South Korea, scheduled for Feb. 9 to 25. South Korea in turn agreed to offer all necessary conveniences during the North Koreans' stay.
The breakthrough came after the first formal inter-Korean dialogue in two years. This will be North Korea's first Olympic appearance in the South, as it boycotted the 1988 Summer Games in Seoul.
Bach hailed the move as "a great step forward in the Olympic spirit," and said, "Now the IOC must take the decisions to make this political commitment a reality."
According to the IOC, the four-party meeting will result in "a series of essential decisions." That includes the number and names of athletes and officials from the North Korean Olympic Committee, since deadlines for registration have passed. The IOC said it will also have to decide on the format of North Korea's participation, including questions related to flag, anthem, ceremonies and uniform.
The IOC has previously said it would support North Korean athletes to participate in the PyeongChang Olympics.
The two Koreas remain technically at war since the 1950-53 Korean War ended on an armistice, rather than a peace treaty.
North Korea's participation in PyeongChang 2018 had appeared doubtful until Pyongyang's leader, Kim Jong-un, said in his New Year's address that he'd consider sending North Korean athletes south of the tense border. The two Koreas met and produced their agreement eight days later.
They will hold further working-level talks to hammer out details of North Korea's participation. During those talks, the two sides are also expected to have more discussions on a joint march at the opening ceremony in PyeongChang.
South Korea proposed the joint march during the morning session of Tuesday's meeting, but North Korea had no immediate response. After the conclusion of the talks, Seoul officials said the sides were "getting closer" on reaching a deal on marching in as one Korea at PyeongChang Olympic Stadium.
Source: Yonhap News Agency