North Korea, US To Maintain Standoff During Winter Olympics

Pic Getty Images won three gold medals at Sochi 2014

Pic Getty Images won three gold medals at Sochi 2014

US Vice President Mike Pence may encounter North Korea's ceremonial head of state Kim Yong-nam on Friday as both will attend a reception in honour of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics hosted by South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

Expectations are sky-high for an array of stars including American skiers Mikaela Shiffrin and Lindsey Vonn, while the big question in figure skating centres on whether Japan's "Ice Prince" Yuzuru Hanyu can recover from injury to retain his crown.

A pin collector and trader wears Olympic pins, including two from the PyeongChang Winter Olympics (top) and Olympic mascot Bandabi, the Asiatic black bear outside the Olympic Stadium, in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Feb. 7, 2018.

However, some individual Russian athletes will be allowed to participate in the Games by competing under a neutral Olympic flag. This was not supposed to be, as some in Seoul grumble, the "Pyongyang Games", a play on the North Korean capital's phonetic similarity to Pyeongchang. In a gold-medal diplomatic performance, after months of silence on the issue, Pyongyang said it would be happy to send a delegation to the Games.

Some shots needed no narration, like the excitement on the faces of Korean athletes marching in with a unified team of athletes from the north and south. Hostilities have never officially ceased, and occasional cross-border incidents punctuate a 70-year ceasefire.

"We haven't requested a meeting with North Korea, but if I have any contact with them - in any context - over the next two days, my message will be the same as it was here today: North Korea needs to once and for all abandon its nuclear and ballistic missile ambitions", Pence said.

Contrary to popular opinion, North Korea and the United States will not taking advantage of the Winter Olympics to hold political dialogue for peace, North's KCNA news agency said.

Most people hope it remains that a war of words and the USA is not actually preparing to launch a strike.

It was attention that evidently saw them get the boot from the festivities.

He said the International Olympic Committee "has not only failed to protect clean athletes but has made it possible for cheating athletes to prevail against the clean athletes".

Spectators at the open-air stadium will be provided with several items to fend off the region's bitter cold and high winds during the ceremony, including a raincoat, a blanket and knitted hats, as well as hand, feet and seat warmers.

It is the fourth time the two Koreas have marched together at an Olympic opening ceremony, following Sydney 2000, Athens 2004 and Turin 2006.

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