International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach told the South and the North Korean players on the joint women’s ice hockey team that they should be proud despite the big loss to Switzerland in the opening game, his spokesman said on Sunday.
The joint Korean team made its historic Olympic debut on Saturday, but suffered an 8-0 loss to the Swiss at Kwandong Hockey Centre in Gangneung, Gangwon Province, the sub-host city for all ice sports at the PyeongChang Winter Games, reports Yonhap news agency.
Bach was at the 6,000-seat arena, sitting between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korea’s ceremonial leader, Kim Yong-nam, who was next to North Korean ruler Kim Jong-un’s sister, Kim Yo-jong.
They not only watched the hockey game, but also the performances of North Korean cheerleaders who presented choreographed dances and chanted slogans like “We’re one” and “Cheer up” throughout the game.
“It was a good symbol of hopefully what the Olympic Games and the Olympic spirit can do,” IOC spokesman Mark Adams said of Saturday’s hockey game.
After the game ended with an 8-0 score, Moon, Bach and North Korean officials went down to the bench and had a talk with the Korean hockey players.
“(Bach) told them that the important thing is that they fought well, which they did,” Adams said. “He told them you’ve given everything and you can be proud.”
Bach, a former Olympic fencing champion for Germany, also told the Korean players that they’ll realize the importance of the game, according to Adams.
“He told them you’ll come to understand the importance and significance in this,” Adams said. “He also said, as an athlete, he understands how they were feeling last night. It was a great moment for the Olympic Games and the Olympic spirit.”