South Korea PM apologised for gaffe on unified team

Vastavam web: South Korea’s prime minister apologised today for suggesting the country’s women’s ice hockey team had no chance of a medal at the Winter Olympics in an unsuccessful attempt to dampen criticism over a unified team with the North.Seoul and Pyongyang agreed this week to field a unified side for the women’s ice hockey tournament at the Games, which begin in Pyeongchang next month.But the proposal has sparked a backlash in the South, with critics saying that the move would disrupt the side and deprive some Southern squad members of their chance to play on the Olympic stage.

South Korea qualified for the tournament as hosts, rather than on merit, and Prime Minister Lee Nak-Yon said Tuesday that the team was out of medal contention, with the South ranked 22nd in the world and the North 25th.”I acknowledge that my remarks had room for misunderstanding,” he said at an annual policy briefing by government cabinet ministers.”I apologise to those who were hurt by the remarks,” he added.

The women’s ice hockey team is not the only element of the agreement that is controversial in the South.A larger share — 49.4 percent — supported the two Koreas entering the ceremonies holding up their own national flags.Seoul has suggested expanding the ice hockey team roster to accommodate North Korean players, but other countries are likely to see that as conferring an unfair advantage.The International Olympic Committee, which has the ultimate say on Games matters, is set to finalise the arrangements in talks with both Koreas in Lausanne tomorrow.