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(Olympics) N. Korea to miss first Winter Games in 12 years: official

2014/02/04 10:59

SOCHI, Feb. 4 (Yonhap) -- North Korea will miss the Winter Olympic Games for the first time in 12 years, an Olympics official here said Tuesday.

An official with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said no North Korean has qualified for the Feb. 7-23 Sochi Winter Games in Russia. North Korean athletes also failed to earn special "wild cards" for the Olympics as granted by international sports federations, the official added.

The Sochi Winter Olympics' website lists North Korea as a participating country but doesn't display any athlete.

Last month, an informed source in Moscow told Yonhap News Agency that Pyongyang would send Kim Yong-nam, the country's ceremonial head of state, to Sochi's opening ceremony, even if the North wouldn't have athletes in competition.

North Korea last missed a Winter Olympics in 2002 in Salt Lake City. The reclusive state's first Winter Games was in Innsbruck in 1966, where speed skater Han Pil-hwa grabbed the silver medal in the women's 3,000 meters. It was the North's first ever Olympic medal, winter or summer.

The North also entered the Winters Games in 1972, 1984, 1988, 1992 and 1998. In Albertville in 1992, short tracker Hwang Ok-sil won the bronze in the women's 500m.

North Korea sent six athletes to the Turin Games in 2006 and two more to Vancouver in 2010 without winning any medal.