The Pyeongchang 2018 Torch Relay is due to arrive in South Korea on November 1 ©Pyeongchang 2018

Any prospect of the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic Torch Relay visiting North Korea appear to have been rejected by Games organisers - although there remains a very slim chance of it visiting the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) border. 

The Organising Committee insist that any decision on this is out of their hands and would be a high-level political decision.

insidethegames understands that, although not included in original plans, visiting the DMZ - a 250 kilometres long and four kilometres wide buffer zone between North and South Korea - was one idea proposed in order what organisers are hoping will be a "Peace Olympics".

Recent tensions between the two Koreas as well as in the wider Asia-Pacific region, however, makes this less likely.

"Going into the DMZ is something beyond Pyeongchang 2018's authority," Torch Relay Team project manager Doyeon Kim told insidethegames today.

"If in the smallest chance something happens politically, maybe, but right now we are not considering that option at all."

North Korean tensions continue to overshadow preparation for Pyeongchang 2018 in the eyes of most international observers.

This follows recent events including the firing of a ballistic missile from Pyongyang yesterday which travelled across northern Japan before crashing into the sea.

Under present plans, the Torch will come close to the DMZ to the county of Goseung which had been part of North Korea before moving to the south as part of the Armistice which declared a ceasefire to the Korean War in 1953.

The planned route for the Olympic Torch Relay will criss-cross around South Korea ©Pyeongchang 2018
The planned route for the Olympic Torch Relay will criss-cross around South Korea ©Pyeongchang 2018

A report in the Korean Herald earlier this month said an anonymous source, reportedly close to preparations of Pyeongchang 2018, had revealed that the Relay could visit North Korea's capital Pyongyang or Mount Kumkang, a mountain resort located close to the South Korean border.

This was swiftly rejected by organisers and there appears little chance of a change of mind.

Organisers are keen, however, for North Korean athletes to participate in the Games.

At present, none have qualified and, unlike at the Summer Olympics, there is no Tripartite Commission wildcard system.

Figure skaters Ryom Tae-ok and Kim Ju-sik have the most realistic chance of qualifying.

The Torch Relay, meanwhile, is taking place on a smaller scale than the one before the last Winter Olympics at Sochi 2014, but is still ambitious.

It is due to be lit in Olympia in Greece on October 24 before travelling to South Korea.

Beginning on November 1 in Incheon, it was last 101 days and travel precisely - and not coincidentally - 2,018 kilometres across all 17 South Korean Provinces and Metropolitan Cities. 

There will be 7,500 Torchbearers to represent a snapshot of the 75 million people living across North and South Korea.

The Torch will travel on 88 of the 101 days and will visit those unable to see it action - such as hospitals and retirement homes - on the remaining 13 "rest" days.

Five special events have been devised to represent the five themes of "peace", "environment", "economy", "culture" and "ICT".

It will travel by different modes of transport such as cable car, helicopter, bicycles, zipwire, para-glider and a variety of boats.

This will include a section travelling by turtle ship in Hansando Island in Tongyeong.

The turtle ship - capable of firing five different types of canon - is a key part of Korean military history, having been designed by 16th century admiral Yi Sun-Shin before playing a pivotal role in his successful attempt to repel Japanese naval forces from a successful invasion.

Other likely highlights include a Royal Carriage parade relay at Seoul's Gyeongbokgung Palace as well as a "robot relay event" showcasing the host nation's "creativity and audacity" in Daejeon, Korea’s technology hub.

The Olympic Flame is due to be officially handed over to South Korean officials during a ceremony at the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens on October 31. 

The Torch Relay is due to end at the Opening Ceremony of the Winter Olympics here on February 9.