North and South Korea have requested that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) allows some teams from the two countries to unify for next year’s summer Olympics in Tokyo.
Officials from the two countries, still technically at war, met with the IOC in Lausanne, Switzerland to discuss the potential of a joint bid for the 2032 Olympics, an initiative the IOC welcomed.
After Friday’s discussions, the IOC revealed North and South Korea wanted to send unified teams to Tokyo 2020 in women’s basketball, women’s field hockey, judo (mixed team event) and rowing (women and men’s fours, quadruple sculls and eights).
Unlike the 2018 Winter Olympics, when the unified women’s ice hockey team qualified automatically as hosts, teams put forward by the two countries will have to qualify for Tokyo 2020 and be subject to the same anti-doping testing program as all other athletes taking part in the Games.
The latter could be problematic as the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has declared North Korea as non-compliant with the WADA code.
But, in a press release, the IOC said: “The IOC will explore the possibility with WADA and other parties of providing additional support to the National Olympic Committees (NOC) of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (PRK) to strengthen the fight against doping.
“The IOC has been advised by the two Korean NOCs and WADA that there is already an agreement in place with the China Anti-Doping Agency to resolve this situation as soon as possible.”
The IOC’s executive board will make a decision about Tokyo 2020 at its next meeting in Lausanne, held from March 26 to 28.
IOC President Thomas Bach said: “The discussions at the working meeting are one further step showing how sport can once more make a contribution to peace on the Korean Peninsula and the world.
“We have a good foundation to build on and make further progress ahead of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. Sport will continue to build bridges and demonstrate the unifying power of the Olympic Games. Therefore, we warmly welcome the historic initiative of the two Koreas to put forward a joint Korean candidature for the Olympic Games 2032.”
Do Jong-hwan, South Korea’s Minister of Culture, Sport and Tourism, said his country would “continue to work closely” with the North on a joint bid, while Kim Il-guk, North Korea’s NOC President and Minister of Physical Culture and Sport, said he was “moved and excited.”
“I am very moved and excited by the prospect of bidding together with South Korea. We agree with the concepts put forward by South Korea, and ask for the support of President Bach and the IOC to jointly host the Olympic Games in Seoul and Pyongyang,” he said.
Last year’s Winter Olympics eased tensions on the peninsular. Two months after the 2018 Games, Kim Jong Un and Moon Jae-in met for inter-Korean talks, the North Korean leader crossing into the South for the first time since the Korean war.
There were two further summits in 2018 between the leaders, with Moon becoming the first South Korean president since 2007 to travel North, and, in June 2018, a meeting was held between US President Donald Trump and Kim in Singapore. A second summit between Trump and Kim is planned for later this month.