The International Olympic Committee (IOC) provided US$115,200 worth of support for the training of North Korean athletes who took part in the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, a Washington-based radio station said Saturday.
From November 2008 through last month, the IOC provided monthly support of $1,500 to each of five North Korean athletes, two of whom participated in the Olympics that ended March 1, the international broadcaster Radio Free Asia reported, citing an e-mail from the committee.
The communist North sent figure skaters Ko Hyun-sook and Ri Song-chol to the Vancouver Olympics, but failed to win a medal.
The impoverished Pyongyang, which relies on outside aid to feed its 24 million people, has won a total of two [WINTER] Olympic medals — a silver in women’s speed skating in 1964 and a bronze in women’s short track skating in 1992 — in its history.
Establishing the Olympic scholarship program in the 1960s, the IOC provides cash support to impoverished nations like North Korea to encourage participation of all countries in the international sports event.
The IOC is willing to support North Korean athletes again for the 2012 London Olympics, the committee said in the e-mail, adding it will accept applications from September this year.