PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — The IOC president, Thomas Bach, strongly criticized the midweek ruling by the Court of Arbitration for Sport that lifted Olympic doping bans for 28 Russian athletes, calling it “extremely disappointing and surprising.”

“The IOC, we would never have expected this,” Bach said Sunday, five days before the Winter Olympics start. “We feel that this decision shows the urgent need for reforms in the internal structure of CAS.”

The CAS ruling Thursday overturned doping bans on 28 Russians, citing insufficient evidence. Russia said it wanted to send 15 of the 28 to the Games, including gold medal-winning skeleton slider Alexander Tretiakov and cross-country skiing gold medalist Alexander Legkov. Others, particularly Russia’s top bobsledders from the 2014 Sochi Olympics, have retired.

Bach said an independent panel, chaired by former French sports minister Valerie Fourneyron, would review and make a recommendation on Russian doping cases. He hopes a final decision will be made “in the next couple of days.”

The IOC has invited 169 Russians to compete as “Olympic Athletes from Russia” under a neutral flag, but an IOC spokesman said Saturday that his organization reserves the right to review and appeal the CAS decision.

WEARING A LOGO of a map symbolizing peace between the Koreas, the most talked-about team at this year’s Olympics finally saw game action Sunday in a friendly that drew thousands of spectators in a country that never previously showed much passion for hockey.

The North and South Korean women’s hockey players, who only began practicing together about a week ago as a combined team, crashed the boards and threw their bodies to stop pucks and opponents, but never threatened in a 3-1 loss to world No. 5 Sweden in Incheon, South Korea. The Koreans will play Sweden again Feb. 12 during the Olympic tournament.

But the outcome didn’t seem to matter to the capacity crowd of 3,000. Fans waved miniature white-and-blue flags showing a unified Korean Peninsula – the same mark on the players’ uniforms – and chanted “We are one” while screaming whenever the Koreans got on the break. The arena thunderously erupted when South Korean forward Park Jong-ah cut the deficit to 2-1 in the first period.

“I think that the North Korean players played really well – this is one of the biggest crowds they played in front of,” said Sarah Murray, the joint team’s Canadian coach. “Being added 12 days ago and not getting to practice together all that much, they played our system pretty well.”

The team’s North Korean coach, Pak Chol Ho, said the Koreas “can do anything if they do things as one.”

North Korea plans to send hundreds of people to the games, including athletes, officials, artists and a 230-member cheering group. Skeptics think the country is trying to use the games to weaken U.S.-led sanctions and pressure, and buy more time to advance its nuclear weapons and missiles arsenal.