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Vatican delegation attends Olympic Committee general meeting

VATICAN (Agencies): In a first, the Vatican has been invited to attend the February 5 to 7 annual general meeting of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) as an official observer, in Pyeongchang, South Korea, L’Osservatore Romano reported on February 2. 
The delegation, led by Monsignor Melchor Sanchez de Toca Alameda, undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for Culture and head of its Culture and Sport section, will also be present at the opening ceremony of the Winter Games which run from February 9 to 25. 
A Vatican delegation previously attended the opening of the Summer Olympics in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro.
Monsignor Sanchez, a former modern pentathlete, told L’Osservatore Romano that he would present Thomas Bach, president of the IOC, and all Korean Olympic athletes with the official yellow and white jerseys worn by members of the Vatican’s running club, Athletica Vaticana, which—like its other sports teams—is made up of employees of Vatican City State and the Holy See.
Athletes from both North Korea and South Korea are slated to walk together during the opening ceremony and carry the Korean Unification Flag, designed to represent all of Korea when athletes from the North and South participate as one team in sporting events.
There will be a unified Korean team at the Olympics for the first time as players from both North and South Korea make up a team in women’s ice hockey.
Bishop Peter Lee Ki-heon, president of the Korean bishops’ Committee for the Reconciliation of the Korean People, expressed the hope that “the Olympics, feast of peace, will be a turning point to reduce the uneasiness and to settle peace on the peninsula,” UCAN reported on January 29. 
Bishop Lee from the diocese of Uijeongbu, which borders North Korea, said, “North Korea’s participation is meaningful as it is a step forward to a new era of peace by ending the long-lasting struggles. As Pope Francis stresses, we should welcome North Korean delegates based on fraternity full of love.’
The statement said, “We should make hay while the sun shines. We need to see this precious opportunity as a chance for coexistence and a new era where future generations freely go and come between the two Koreas.”
UCAN reported Bishop Lee as pushing for the disarmament of weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear arms, for the complete settlement of peace on the peninsula.
He also stressed the need for more meetings and dialogue between the two Koreas to restore trust and partnership.

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