A senior member of the United States’ International Olympic Committee has called for the inter-Korean women’s Olympic hockey team to be awarded a Nobel Peace Prize.
Angela Ruggiero made the call after the team competed for the first time at an Olympic Games. The team included 12 players from North Korea, which is still technically at war with neighbour South Korea.
“I would love the team to get the Nobel Peace Prize,” Reuters reports Ruggiero as saying.
“Seriously, the team. Something that is recognizing the sacrifice they made to adjusting their competitions,” she said.
The countries are still technically at war and have been since the 1950-53 war ended with a truce rather than a peace treaty.
The combined team took to the ice on Saturday following a suggestion from South Korea that they form a joint team as part of diplomatic efforts to re-engage and open the way for talks over the reclusive North’s weapons programme.
North Korea currently faces heavy sanctions from the United Nations and United States in an effort to pressure the one-party state to move away from its nuclear and ballistic missile development programme.
“As someone who competed in four Olympics and knows it isn’t about you, your team, or your country, I saw the power of what it did last night,” Ruggiero said. Ruggiero herself is a four-time ice hockey world champion, Olympic gold medalist and a member of the IOC’s executive board.
The inter-Korea women’s hockey took to the ice for their first game of the Games on Saturday but lost to Switzerland 8-0.
They did, however, win over the crowd, as cheerleaders from North Korea and South Korean fans showed support for the team vocally.
The 2018 edition of the Winter Olympics began on Friday, February 9 and runs until February 25. It is being hosted by Pyeongchang County in South Korea.