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IOC president open to unified Korean Olympic team in PyeongChang

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SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — IOC President Thomas Bach said Friday that he is open to the possibility of a unified Korean team at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics.

Speaking in Muju, 240 kilometers (150 miles) south of Seoul, on the final day of the 2017 World Taekwondo Championships, Bach told a media conference that he would discuss the issue with South Korea President Moon Jae-in.

At the opening ceremony of the championships, Moon, currently in the United States to visit U.S. President Donald Trump, raised the possibility of the two countries participating together.

“We have noted with great appreciation the message of President Moon to see the Olympic Games as a possibility for dialogue and reconciliation,” said Bach, adding that Moon’s comments reflected the Olympic spirit.
“What this could mean for the 2018 Winter Games and what could be done in respect, we’ll discuss this Monday with President Moon once he’s back from his state visit to the U.S.”

Bach, a former Olympic fencer, confirmed that regardless of any joint team, the IOC was ready to assist North Korea’s involvement at Pyeongchang.

“The position of the IOC is very clear,” he said. “We have already invited the DPRK (North Korea) to participate in the Winter Games in 2018. We are supporting athletes in order to assist them to qualify for the Olympic Games.”

Earlier this week, however, North Korea’s sole member of the IOC, Chang Ung, was cautious when talking to South Korean media.

“It’s only hypothetical, and many different departments at the IOC are involved,” said Chang. “We should stop this discussion. We should only talk about what’s practically possible. I think it’s going to be very difficult.”

While the two Koreas, technically still at war since an armistice brought hostilities to an end in 1953, have marched together at the opening ceremonies at various Olympic tournaments in the past, they have never sent a unified team to compete on that stage.

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MORE: North Koreans can cross DMZ for Olympics

Boglarka Kapas, world champion swimmer, tests positive for coronavirus

Boglarka Kapas
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Boglarka Kapas, the Hungarian swimmer and world 200m butterfly champion, said she tested positive for the coronavirus.

“I don’t have any symptoms yet, and that’s why it’s important for you to know that even if you feel healthy you can spread the virus,” was posted on her social media. “Please be careful, stay at home and stay healthy.”

Nine total members of the Hungarian national team — including swimmers and staff — have tested positive, according to the federation.

Kapas said her first test was negative but a second test showed she had the virus. She was staying in quarantine at home for two weeks.

Kapas, 26, won the 200m fly at last summer’s world championships by passing Americans Hali Flickinger and Katie Drabot in the last 25 meters. She clocked 2:06.78 to prevail by .17 of a second.

Kapas also took bronze in the Rio Olympic 800m freestyle won by Katie Ledecky.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

NHL players: Marie-Philip Poulin is world’s best female hockey player

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The U.S. may have the world’s best women’s hockey team, but NHL players believe Canadian Marie-Philip Poulin is the world’s best player.

Poulin received the most votes out of 496 responses in the 2019-20 NHLPA Player Poll, conducted before the season was suspended. The tally:

Poulin: 39.92%
Hilary Knight (USA): 36.29%
Kendall Coyne Schofield (USA): 15.52%
Emily Pfalzer Matheson (USA): 1.41%
Other: 6.85%

Last year, Knight received the highest percentage of votes from 203 NHL players (27.59), edging Poulin (24.14) with Amanda Kessel third (12.81) and Coyne Schofield and Pfalzer Matheson each receiving 5.91 percent.

Why were Poulin and Knight swapped this year? Perhaps Poulin’s Canadian team winning the debut of the NHL All-Star Skills Competition women’s 3-on-3 game on Jan. 24, even though Knight scored and Poulin did not.

Poulin, now 29, scored both goals in the 2010 Olympic final and the game-tying and -winning goals in the 2014 Olympic final. Even before her Olympic debut at age 18, the daughter of Quebec hospital workers was dubbed “the female Sidney Crosby.”

Knight, 30, led last April’s world championship tournament with seven goals as the U.S. won a fifth straight title. Poulin played 4 minutes, 44 seconds, total at the tournament, missing time with a knee injury.

This spring’s tournament, which was to start Tuesday, was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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