North Korea accepted an invitation to compete at this year's Atlanta Olympics, ensuring a 100 percent turnout for the Centennial Games, the IOC said today.
Of the 197 nations invited by the International Olympic Committee to send teams to Atlanta, only North Korea and Afghanistan had failed to reply by the IOC's Nov. 15 deadline. Afghanistan formally accepted the invitation on Dec. 18, leaving North Korea as the only country that had not responded.
But the IOC said Wednesday that it had received late confirmation from the North Koreans that they would take part in Atlanta.
It's the first time in the post-World-War-II era that all nations affiliated with the IOC have agreed to compete in the Olympics.
The acceptance came in a letter to IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch from the president of the North Korean national Olympic committee, Myong Chol Park.
IOC director general Francois Carrard said the North Koreans asked for help in ensuring their athletes qualified to compete in gymnastics, judo, shooting, track and field, and weightlifting.
North Korea has not sent teams to any major international competitions over the past year, meaning its athletes have missed key Olympic qualifying events. Mr. Carrard said the IOC has asked some of the international sports federations to facilitate the qualification of North Korean athletes.