A senior American member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) called on Sunday for North and South Korea’s joint women’s ice hockey team to be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Angela Ruggiero, a four-times ice hockey world champion and Olympic gold medallist, told Reuters she would ask others to nominate the team, which included 12 players from North Korea which is still technically at war with the South.
It was the first time an inter-Korean team had competed at an Olympic Games.
“I would love the team to get the Nobel Peace Prize,” Ruggiero, a member of the IOC’s executive board said a day after the unified Korean team competed at the Pyeongchang Olympics.
North and South Korean members of their taekwondo teams perform during a joint demonstration, in South Korea, in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). (Reuters)
“Seriously, the team. Something that is recognising the sacrifice they made to adjusting their competitions,” she said.
South Korea suggested the formation of a joint team as part of its efforts to use the Games to re-engage with the North and pave the way for talks over the North’s weapons programme.
North Korea is subject to heavy UN and US sanctions designed to pressure the reclusive, one-party state to abandon its development of nuclear and ballistic missiles.
“As someone who competed in four Olympics and knows it isn’t about you, your team, or your country, I saw the power of what it did last night,” Ruggiero said.
Winning over the crowd
North Korea’s ceremonial head of state Kim Yong Nam (R) and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s sister Kim Yo Jong (L) leave after the women’s preliminary round ice hockey match between Switzerland and the Unified Korean team. (AFP)
The countries are still technically at war since their 1950-53 war ended in a truce rather than a peace treaty.
However, South Korea has been more willing to re-engage with the North than its old US war ally, which wants Seoul to keep piling diplomatic and economic pressure on its neighbor.
Last month, the North agreed with South Korea to send 22 athletes and a 230-strong cheering squad to the winter Games.