IOC head wins highest order of sports merit

IOC head wins highest order of sports merit

By Lee Min-hyung

IOC President Thomas Bach
International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach has won the nation's highest order of sport merit for allowing South Korea to host a peaceful Winter Olympics.

In a Cabinet meeting, Tuesday, the government approved of its plan to confer the Cheongryong Medal to the IOC chief. Cheongryong, or blue dragon in Korean, is regarded as the nation's first-class sports award. The government also awarded Gunilla Lindberg, head of the IOC Coordination Commission, with the second-class sports merit, Maenghojang Medal, according to the prime minister's office.

The awards were given in recognition for Bach and IOC members' crucial role in helping South Korea form a joint women's ice hockey team with North Korea during the PyeongChang Winter Olympics which ended its 16-day run on Feb. 25.

To spread a message of peace around the globe, South Korea also held a series of inter-Korean activities during the sporting event. They included a "unified Korea" flag under which sports delegations from the two Koreas marched together during the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympics.

"The inter-Korean sports team and joint marching parade between the two Koreas have sent a strong peace message across the world, and much more important is that all of them took place here in South Korea," Bach said in a press conference before the closing event of the Winter Olympics last month.

Against the backdrop of the Olympics, Seoul and Pyongyang are in a mood for reconciliation by exchanging high-ranking delegations for peace talks. In particular, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un sent an invitation letter to President Moon Jae-in for a possible summit in Pyongyang in the near future.