Joint bobsled team between North Korea and South Korea would be 'embarrassing,' a 'laughing stock,' coach says

South Korea's bobsled coach scoffed at the idea of a joint Olympic team with North Korea, saying Wednesday the venture would be an embarrassment and make the sport a “laughing stock."

South Korean bobsled head coach Lee Yong's comments added to mounting criticism after the rival countries agreed to field a joint Olympic women’s ice hockey squad for the upcoming games in Pyeongchang.

Lee spoke after the Team Korea launch ceremony in Seoul, and admitted a joint team with the Hermit Kingdom would generate a lot of buzz. But Lee said the downside would be too steep.

"A joint Korean team would draw a lot of attention, but it'd be an embarrassing event that would make our sport a laughingstock," Lee said, according to Yonhap News Agency. "Even a team that has been together for three, four years can get into accidents. It makes no sense to have a new team to train for a couple of weeks."

South Korea's pilot Won Yunjong and his team mates start during the four-man bobsleigh event of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games at the Sanki sliding center in Rosa Khutor February 22, 2014. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann (RUSSIA  - Tags: SPORT OLYMPICS SPORT BOBSLEIGH)   - LR2EA2M1IZ8EN

The South Korean bobsled team prepares for a race.  (Reuters)


The International Bobsledding and Skeleton Federation initially floated the idea late last week of North Korean and South Korean bobsledding athletes competing together, Yonhap reported.

"A mixed 4-man bobsleigh team with athletes from North and South Korea could be among the sleds testing the conditions” on Feb. 24 and 25, the organization said Friday ahead of the Pyeongchang Olympics.

Despite Lee’s rejection, IBSF President Ivo Ferriani said a joint team “would bring the athletes of both countries really close together.”

If a joint bobsledding team was created, it would be the second joint team created for the Olympic Games after the female hockey squad was formed. That 15-member team, consisting of 12 players, a coach and support staff, shouted “We are one!” and took a group photo before heading to practice.

North and South Korea women's ice hockey athletes stand in a line at a dining hall at the Jincheon National Training Centre in Jincheon, South Korea January 25, 2018. The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism/Yonhap via REUTERS      ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. SOUTH KOREA OUT. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVE. - RC1A7207B5C0

North and South Korea hockey players joined together on Thursday.  (Reuters)


But the joint team sparked a major backlash in South Korea. About 70 percent of people surveyed said they opposed the idea of a joint squad because it would deprive South Korean players of playing time.

The South Korean team's coach, Canadian Sarah Murray, admitted last week she was worried about the chemistry between the players.

North Korean defectors tear portraits of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during a press conference against the North Korea's participation in the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics at the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018. A team of South Korean officials travelled to North Korea on Tuesday to check logistics for joint events ahead of next month's Winter Olympics in the South, as the rivals exchanged rare visits to each other amid signs of warming ties. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

South Korean protesters ripped up photos of Kim Jong Un in protest ahead of the Winter Olympics.  (AP)

"Adding somebody so close to the Olympics is a little bit dangerous just for team chemistry because the girls have been together for so long," she said. 

"Why are we doing this?" said Heo Doo-won, a 40-year-old teacher. "We are clearly two different countries and it's better if things stay that way. I don't want a unified team or a unification flag. Why can't we just let the North Koreans march under their own flag?"

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Katherine Lam is a breaking and trending news digital producer for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter at @bykatherinelam