Olympics-Pyeongchang rejects N.Korea proposal to co-host 2018 Games

Reuters

SEOUL, Sept 4 (Reuters) - The organising committee for the

2018 Winter Games in South Korea's Pyeongchang (POCOG) has

poured cold water on North Korea's suggestion that it could

co-host some of the Olympic skiing events at its Masik resort.

North Korea's International Olympic Committee (IOC) member

Chang Ung hinted on Tuesday that the North was willing to host

events at the resort in Wonsan, Gangwon province.

However, POCOG responded on Wednesday by saying that holding

events hundreds of kilometres away from the host city was

unrealistic and would breach IOC regulations.

The two Koreas have only resumed dialogue in recent weeks

after months of tensions earlier this year appeared to take

their frayed ties to the brink of war as Pyongyang threatened

missile and nuclear attacks against the South and its ally the

United States.

The United States fought on the side of the South in the

1950-53 Korean War, which ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.

"Co-hosting goes against International Olympic Committee

regulations which stipulate that, unlike the World Cup, all the

Olympic events be held within the host city," the committee said

in a news release on Wednesday.

"We should make sure technology and administrative works are

in optimal condition in order to host an event- and

athlete-oriented Olympic Games. Holding some of the events in

the Masik resort, more than 300 kilometres away from

Pyeongchang, cannot guarantee meeting this goal," the committee

added.

IOC Chairman Jacques Rogge has previously expressed

opposition to co-hosting events with North Korea, saying in 2011

that the IOC would consider allowing the two Koreas to march

together at the 2018 opening ceremony but not to share events.

"As far as spreading venues between the two countries, that

is something we do not consider under the current Olympic

Charter," said Rogge.

2018 POSSIBILITY

On Tuesday, North Korea's Chang told U.S. funded broadcaster

Voice of America that the Masik resort could possibly hold 2018

events if an agreement could be reached.

"When construction is complete, it (Masik) can be used in an

international event and possibly in the Olympic Games," Chang

was quoted as saying in the telephone interview.

He acknowledged, however, that it was not a simple decision

to make and that there would have to be complex discussions

among several bodies such as the IOC and International Ski

Federation to assess the possibility.

Last month, Switzerland banned the sale to North Korea of

equipment for the luxury ski resort planned for the ruling elite

in the impoverished state that is under U.N. sanctions.

The North approached several Swiss companies to provide

chair lifts and cable cars worth 7 million Swiss francs ($7.57

million) for its sprawling Masik resort, the Geneva daily Le

Temps reported on Aug. 19.

But the Swiss government, contacted by the companies for

clearance, added luxury sporting equipment to its list of goods

banned under United Nations sanctions, Marie Avet of the State

Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), said.

"The Federal Council decided on July 3 to also put

infrastructure for sports facilities on the list, especially

when they have a more luxury character for resorts," Avet told

Reuters. "These resorts have a luxury character, that is why it

is not appropriate to export."

North Korea has said construction of the resort was part of

its plans to boost economic development and improve livelihoods

and not just for the elite.

(Reporting By Narae Kim and Jinsol Lee; Editing by Peter

Rutherford)

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