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North and South Korea launched rare talks early in January to bring North Koreans to the Pyeongchang Games after the North's leader, Kim Jong Un, said in a New Year's address he was willing to open up discussions with Seoul.

A ministry official confirmed that a delegation of 45 skiers, officials and reporters from the South would travel to the North that day for a two-day training session, as initially planned.

The organizing body of the PyeongChang Olympics has said around 74 percent of tickets for the upcoming Winter Games have been sold thus far.

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On 5 December, the worldwide Olympic Committee (IOC) has suspended the national team of Russian Federation from participation in the Olympics.

The ministry cited North Korea as saying it has no other option but to cancel the cultural event because of South Korean media reports that it says defamed its "sincere" measures for the Olympics.

The U.S. State Department voiced displeasure on Wednesday over North Korean plans to stage a military parade on the eve of the Winter Olympics, but it assured Americans going to the games that South Korea's security plan considered all contingencies. South Korea held discussions with the United States until the last minute to ensure the trip wouldn't violate USA sanctions against the North.

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"While we would prefer that this parade not occur on February 8, it is our hope, and I know the hope of South Korea, that the North Koreans. will join with all the nations of the world in celebrating the athletes", Goldstein said.

"We've been degraded", snowboard gold medalist Alyona Zavarzina said in comments published by the Russian Olympic Committee on Twitter.

Many South Koreans have complained that the unified women's hockey team - the only such joint team to be formed - was unfair to the South Korean players. The exercises are a major source of tensions on the peninsula, with North Korea using them to justify its push to develop nuclear weapons capable of striking the US mainland. South Korean officials have said the North plans a massive military parade on the anniversary. "But for us, how we compete will say everything".

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