North and South Korea to march together at Olympic opening ceremony

North and South Korean athletes will march together at the opening ceremony of a Winter Olympics for the first time.

Korean delegates met Tuesday on the sidelines of a meeting of National Olympic Committees and agreed to a unified Olympic march, extending a tradition that started at the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney and continued at the 2004 Athens Games.

The two Koreas are hoping to form a unified team to compete at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

North Korea did not send a team to Salt Lake City in 2002 and is competing at the Winter Olympics for the first time since Japan hosted the 1998 edition at Nagano.

IOC president Jacques Rogge described the move as "a very important, symbolic gesture."

"We are working with the national Olympic committees not only to have a joint march but to have a joint team in the future," he said.

Rogge was not sure of the specifics of the parade because of the different sizes of the national contingents. North Korea has sent six athletes in two sports.

"Normally it should be the two full teams, that's the way we did it in Sydney and Athens," he said.

North and South Korea are committed to forming a combined team to compete at the 2006 Asian Games in Doha, Qatar, in December, and agreed in principle at a meeting at Macau in November to form a unified team for Beijing.

The Koreas have been divided since 1945, and fought a three-year war in the 1950s, reports AP.


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