North Korean Olympians to enter the South through Demilitarized Zone

North Korean athletes participating at the 2018 Winter Olympics in neighbouring South Korea will be allowed to pass through the Korean Demilitarised Zone.

The landmark agreement was revealed by Hee-Beom Lee, the head of the South Korean organising committee for the 2018 Winter Olympics which will be held in the capital Pyeongchang. 

Korean Demilitarised Zone was created by the two governments with the help of the United Nations in 1953 and features a 250km stretch of land which is 4km wide. Heavily armed troops are stationed either side and no movement is allowed in the area.

While North Korean athletes are still set to qualify for the global showpiece, Lee has laid the groundwork for an efficient and peaceful arrival of any athletes that do. 

"Symbolically, to maintain peace in the Korean peninsula, their participation is very important, and for the success of the Olympic Games," Lee told BBC Sport.

"With or without qualification we are still talking with the International Olympic Committee and the relevant international federations for North Korea to participate."

Lee added that while athletes would travel by road, the support staff and fans would have to come from the North via ship.

Despite a series of missile tests by North Korea contributing to rising tensions in the region, the organising committee is adamant it will not affect the spirit of the Games. 

The 2018 Winter Olympics kicks off on 9 February and runs until the 25th.