IOC ready to provide North Korean athletes with gear for Games
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) said on Friday it was helping North Korea prepare its athletes for the winter games in South Korea next February and would cover costs of their equipment if needed.
North Korea had protested to three global sporting federations that its requests to buy sports equipment for its athletes were being denied due to U.S.-led sanctions, Reuters reported on Thursday.
Three letters from North Korean sporting associations, seen by Reuters in Geneva, were addressed to the International Ski Federation (FIS) and World Archery Federation, both based in Switzerland, and the International Shooting Sport Federation (SSF), based in Munich, Germany.
The mascot for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics Soohorang is seen during the Pyeongchang Winter Festival, near the venue for the opening and closing ceremony of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South KoreaReuters
The United Nations Security Council has imposed nine rounds of sanctions on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) since 2006 for its nuclear and missile programmes. The trade restrictions have grey areas, including on some sports equipment.
None of the three international governing bodies responded to requests for comment, but IOC spokeswoman Emmanuelle Moreau confirmed the IOC had been copied into the letter to FIS.
"The IOC is providing the NOC (National Olympic Committee) of DPRK with assistance to prepare their athletes for the Pyeongchang Games," Moreau said by email on Friday.
The Lausanne-based IOC was "currently making arrangements" with the International Ski Federation and International Skating Union to cover the participation of North Korean athletes in qualifying competitions and training camps, she said.
Currently "five to 10 athletes are expected to take part in those qualifying events. The final number and costs incurred will only be known at the end of the process," she added.
"All costs for their participation will be covered by Olympic Solidarity and this includes equipment, if needed and requested," Moreau added, without referring to the sanctions.