North and South Korea participated together under the unification flag at the Opening Ceremony ©Getty Images

A final deal for North and South Korea to march together at the Opening Ceremony of Pyeongchang 2018 was only reached four hours before it took place, International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach has revealed. 

Bach also confirmed that four years of negotiations had taken place since the idea of a joint march was first raised in 2014.

insidethegames had exclusively revealed on the eve of the Opening Ceremony last Friday (February 9) that North Korea were on the verge of boycotting the Games before being persuaded otherwise after meetings with the IOC and other stakeholders.

It followed comments by United States Vice-President Mike Pence, who said in Tokyo on his arrival in Asia to attend the Opening Ceremony that they planned to introduce the "toughest and most aggressive" sanctions yet against North Korea.

"We have been working for the participation of the North Korean athletes since 2014 in a very special way and all the way through until [the] last moment," Bach told Eurosport

"To tell you a little secret, the final decision about the joint march was taken just four hours before the Ceremony actually started at 4pm in the afternoon. 

"So you can get an impression of what happened there behind the scenes."

Thomas Bach has admitted that the North Korea deal was only agreed shortly before the Opening Ceremony ©Getty Images
Thomas Bach has admitted that the North Korea deal was only agreed shortly before the Opening Ceremony ©Getty Images

Bach described the march as a "great moment" which "still gives me goosebumps and great emotions".

"You see these athletes from the two Koreas, they are holding hands and enjoying their moment together and writing history at this moment," he added.

"Because they’re sending a great message of friendship and peace to the world from this Korean peninsula, where we have unfortunately such high political tensions."

IOC Executive Board member Angela Ruggiero has claimed that a unified Korean women's ice hockey team also participating at Pyeongchang 2018 should receive the Nobel Peace Prize.

The American former ice hockey player reiterated today how the team "should be recognised in some capacity".

"Whether it's the Nobel Peace Prize, it's an idea but maybe it's something else," she said.

Winning the Prize has long been an aim of the IOC ever since the days of former President Juan Antonio Samaranch, but it has not yet been achieved.

IOC Presidential spokesperson Mark Adams insisted today that "from an IOC administrative level there has been no consideration whatsoever on this".

The situation in South Korea follows a far less successful Olympic Truce four years ago in Sochi which was disrupted by host nation Russia invading Ukraine.