Kim Jong Un is committed to sending North Korean teams to the next two Olympics, the IOC chief Thomas Bach said Saturday after a rare meeting with the leader of the nuclear-armed regime in Pyongyang.
The Associate Press reports they held a 30-minute meeting after watching a football match together.
KCNA said Kim expressed thanks for the IOC's support and for cooperating with North Korea "regardless of any political climate and conditions".
North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un has reportedly met with International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach in Pyongyang for talks on the nation's future participation in the upcoming games.
Bach travelled to Pyongyang on Thursday in a visit that comes after North Korea's participation in the Pyeongchang Winter Games helped ease tensions over the Korean peninsula.
The North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said Bach told Kim the trip was to "express the most heartfelt thanks" to North Korea's leader for helping make February's the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics a Games that were "symbolic of peace".
"He said that the once frozen north-south relations greeted a dramatic thawing season with the Olympics as a momentum and it was totally attributable to the efforts of the International Olympic Committee which offered an opportunity and paved a path for it", KCNA reported. He is the first foreign official to meet Kim since the North Korean leader returned earlier this week from a summit in Beijing with the Chinese president, Xi Jinping.
Following an extensive "four eyes" meeting with Kim Jong-un, it was confirmed that the country is committed to its athletes competing at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 and the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022, as well as the Summer Youth Olympic Games Buenos Aires 2018 and the Winter Youth Olympic Games Lausanne 2020.
The South Korean and North Korean athletes walked as a joint team under one flag during the opening ceremony and the Games were seen to have eased tensions between the two nations.
Hopes have been raised that the North Korean leader may be willing to discuss his nuclear weapons program and other measures to reduce the threat of war, possibly in exchange for security guarantees and an easing of the global sanctions that have severely pinched the already struggling North Korean economy.
Raising the level of North Korean athletes has been high on Kim's agenda since he became leader.
Bach, who is German, competed in the Olympics for West Germany before Germany's unification and says that gives him a special feeling for the Koreas.